We Carry the Light for Each Other
We Carry the Light for Each Other
By: Rebecca Garrett Pace
I need All Saints Sunday because this year, one of the slides will show a picture of me and my dad when we stopped at Bojangle’s on the way home from the airport. I need All Saints Sunday because cancer is unfair and because he and my mom were married for 49 years and because I have days when I struggle to get out of bed, and because passing a mini storage marquee with a dumb joke makes me cry, because it’s exactly the kind of joke Dad would have sent on our family group message.
A friend who lost her mom last year texted me recently and said, “I never understood the Victorian mourning customs until I lost Mom.” (Quick history lesson: in the Victorian era, people who experienced death would wear black for a full year afterwards – two years if it was your spouse – as a signal to the entire community that you were in mourning. You still attended church, went shopping, cared for families, even went to weddings and parties, but grief and mourning were the undercurrent of all of it.)
Now, I’m not saying we should return to these mourning customs, because those also came with way too many prescriptive elements and assumptions about how people were to be treated (especially women and children and anyone not-white). But there is something rather comforting about a community that expects you to be somewhere on the spectrum of “Mildly Functional” to “A Complete Mess” for at least 12 months.
On All Saints Sunday, I just want to give you a heads up, I will be closer to the “Complete Mess” end of the spectrum. And I’m here to tell you that it’s ok if you are, too.
Lean on me, and I’ll lean on you.
Thanks for your thoughts on grieving. I’ll be a mess right along side of you.
Your memories will become more important to you even with the pain that comes with those memories but so many will make you smile. Someone you love and who loved you made such a difference in your life. I stayed with my aunt most weekends while growing up and, in her cranky wisdom, she shared her words and ideas that help mold me and stayed with me. She was a true women's liber and worked hard rarely spending money on herself. I still glance and think I see her in her red lipstick that was applied outside her lips, her clear rainhat, bright red coat and galoshes that covered her shoes in case it rained. She cussed at the pigeons that sat on the window sill of her apartment making noise, made me play the trumpet in school, and on Saturdays we went by bus to the library downtown, after my ballet and elocution classes that she paid for, loading up on books. She took me to church. We ate Neapolitan ice cream while watching Lawrence Welk together...She paid for my college, bought me a Pinto after I graduated high school and raised me when my parents could not and made an undeniable difference in my life. I love these memories of her that make me smile. Thanks for letting me share.
Bette, what a beautiful reflection. Thanks for sharing and allowing us into that space!
Beautifully said, Rebecca. Grief really does come in waves as it did yesterday on the 19th anniversary of my son’s death. It is probably made harder for you being so far away from your mom & Michael. Know that you are forever loved by so many, & I will always be among them. ❤️