Sunday, June 14, 2015

Life Altering Events **

Last year I stopped attending the church I've been going to off and on since I was a child. When I moved back in with my parents I got very involved spiritually and in the workings of said church. Over the years that enthusiasm waned, people I knew and loved died, the congregation diminished in size and I began to feel less and less at home. Which seems weird cause when I do go back it always feels like when you've moved away from home but go back for a visit. You know, those moments of walking in the back door and being welcomed with big hugs and a homecooked meal. But after awhile, when it's time to go, you are pretty sure that while it feels like home, it isn't home anymore.  I will always feel a call to sit in the pew that I shared with my mom and dad; a place where I once encountered the power of the Holy Spirit and the "communion of saints" but now feel only long gone memories. I stopped going because I felt more sadness than joy when I was there.  

I haven't changed my membership but I have been going to another church where I can worship and pray in cognito. I don't feel the need to get involved. I haven't joined a women's group. I don't go to coffee hour. I go to church, share a meal with the Lord, pass peace-filled blessings to those around me and go home. I've also realized that many Sundays it's easier to turn the alarm off, roll over and go back to sleep. I can't say that my relationship with God has diminished, I just don't feel the need to practice it inside the confines of a doctrine or building. Or maybe I'm just too lazy to make the effort.

Also, I think it's okay to say here that over the last few years, Sweetie has been having what might be called a crisis of faith. When we first got together I was glad we had being Episcopalians in common. Now for reasons of his own, he is uncomfortable in church saying rote prayers and listening to homilies that no longer make sense to him. He doesn't feel like his relationship with God needs an intercessor. The concept of the Trinity has yet to be explained in a way he can grasp.  I'll be honest, it disappointed me at first. Then I decided its what we believe that's important, not how we believe. If we both live according to Jesus' mandate to love one another, and honor our Baptismal vow to "strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being." then I think we're doing pretty good. *

All that to say we had kind of a strange morning. It seems almost as if a window opened to give us a glimpse of what the future might look like. This is where the memory I once had would come in handy because without taking notes or turning on a tape recorder there's no way I can chronicle all that was said.

Because we were having brunch with some friends after church I thought it might be nice to go to church beforehand. It's not far from the restaurant and, under the circumstances, it might be good to be in a place of quiet prayer. Partaking of Holy Communion is a grace-filled moment for me and, let's face it,  Sweetie could use some "grace" even if he doesn't know where it's coming from.

I was up and dressed when Sweetie came stumbling down the hall. He said he wasn't quite awake yet so I didn't think much of it. It was an hour or two before my normal rising time. I wasn't real awake either. As Sweetie reached for his what has become his uniform - white t-shirt and blue jeans - I asked if he could wear something else. It was no big deal really, I just thought maybe he could switch it up a bit.

"Do I have to," answered Sweetie sounding for all the world like a 4 year old being asked to take a bath. In hindsight that should have been a clue that something was off. Sweetie doesn't usually whine. And a shower is usually enough to wake him up. He was walking slower than a turtle and swaying like a drunk. Still I didn't think too much of it. However, by the time we got to church and he could barely walk by himself I began to worry. I thought he just hated the idea of being there. Leaving was okay with me if it was that hard on him. (An aside about how I think Grace works. Sweetie sat on a bench while I parked the car. As he stared at a rosebush, a green dragonfly with prism-colored wings darted between the roses. Sweetie's animal totem just happens to be the dragonfly. I believe it was no ordinary dragonfly, but God in a form Sweetie could identify. When I walked up and took Sweetie's hand in mine, I'm pretty sure I heard a small, but powerful, voice whisper, "Welcome home, Jack.")

We went in, found a seat next to our friends. While I stood, sat, stood, kneeled, sat and stood the way Episcopalians do, Sweetie sat, barely moving. When we got up to go to Communion, he looked like a cross between a wobbly old man and a kid who lost his mother. WTF? When served the wafer, he appeared not to know what to do with it. When the Chalice was presented for "dunking" his hands shook so I thought the whole thing was going to spill. (Once an Altar Guild lady, always an Altar Guild Lady. Cleaning up spilled sanctified wine is a chore and a half!) Again, Sweetie stood on wobbly legs to head back to the pew. I grabbed my purse and walked him to the car instead.

M: What's going on? I asked trying to sound calm, but fearing there was nothing to be calm about.
S: Everything is tingly. And I'm dizzy.
M: Did you eat anything?
S: No
M: Did you check your blood sugar?
S: No.

Okay, so it looked like we were dealing with low blood sugar. A glass of orange juice would hopefully do the trick. Orange juice, coffee and an omelet later, his hands were still shaking and his voice sounded like it was coming from far away. Quite frankly he looked like a zoned out space cadet.

Here's the odd thing, though, when our friends arrived, weird as he looked and sounded, Sweetie spoke   clearly. He had no trouble recalling jokes from the Willy Nelson book he'd just read, or recounting something he'd read in the book about ALZ, or sharing painful memories from his childhood - something he rarely does. (Please see previous post).

"Stressful situations require extreme amounts of energy. I think that some experiences are so sever that they not only temporarily drain us, but also stifle recharging sessions. I suspect that the accumulative effects of the Super Energy Drawing Events (S.E.D.E's) in my life have permanently minimized my ability to recharge. SEDE's may be, in part, or fully, responsible for the extreme fatigue that I have endured for years. Or perhaps it is isn part, or all, due to Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease?" **
The things he wrote last night, were still weighing heavy on his mind. Years of feeling angry towards his dad and abandonment by his mom, appear to have floated away. Is that possible? Is that how letting go works? Like loosening your grip on a tethered balloon? Once free, it glides away on a current of unseen air? Could the release of pent up emotions cause trembling hands and lightheadedness?

To be continued ….

* Religion is a personal thing. We may or may not see eye to eye on what I've said, but that's okay. I think God is big enough to handle all points of view.

** Don't Bury Me It Ain't Over Yet, by Charles Schneider, author house, Burlington , IN, 2006, page 7-8


Joy said...

Mary, it has been hard to know what to say to you since the news of Jack's diagnosis. I have always searched deep for the right words to say that would possibly give the receiver something that they could hang on to or put in their pocket that would lighten the load. A heartfelt gift of love wrapped in verbage that lifts the darkness for a moment and let's the light in. A lot of times I fail to come up with those magic words. But know that I am following you and Jack, holding you both in my heart each day, cheering you on in support.

I am humbled by the dual sharing in your blog. I am touched by your words and observations.

MamaJoe said...

Dragonflies are so special to me. Now every time I see one, Sweetie will be in my head too.