August 14, 2008
While it’s still warm, the hottest days of summer have passed, and so far, it’s still early enough in the day for the air to be relaxed and cool. Normally, I would do anything to be out, enjoying the weather on a day like today. But, even if I could get away with staying outside right now, there’s no way I could ever really enjoy myself. As I ponder the sun bouncing off the rich green grass around me, I can’t help but wonder why the truly tragic days can still be so beautiful.
Frustrated, I lay my head against my steering wheel, trying to find my center. I don’t relish the idea of pulling myself out of the security of my vehicle and into the church, but I know I must. I must forget the soft blue sky and remember why I am here. I came to help Monica. She is why I decided to come, to support her at a time when she so desperately needs support, and this is what I want to do, what I hope to do, and now, what I’m afraid to do.
The parking lots are all full, as well as many of the streets around the church. I can’t imagine how many people must be inside. My insecurities escalate, stirring questions about my promise to come. I’ve not known this family long, but just looking at the multitude of cars around me, the love for Amber is evident. I wonder if Monica needs me. There are probably plenty of people to stand by Monica’s side. I no longer feel like I’m the comfort she needs. I feel like the worst kind of intruder. What am I doing here?
Who goes to the funeral of a person they don’t even know? How could I believe I would be the kind of support she needs or even understand the pain she must feel? I don’t know of her loss. I’ve barely known her long enough to recognize her joy. Here I was, thinking I could be a comfort. Now, I am painfully aware of how little we do know of each other. I am about to walk into a place filled with strangers, every one of them in mourning, and yet, I won’t know their pain. I can’t talk with them about the bliss of knowing Amber or the wonder of experiencing her laugh. I don’t know what I’m going to do or even how to do it. I don’t even know how to get out of my truck. I do all that is left for me to do. I pray.
Before the fear overtakes me entirely, I turn my eyes to the sky, and I find a way to stay. I pray I can be a comfort, and I pray that I will be guided to my words and never serve my agenda. I pray I can be anything she might need me to be. “Please, God, open me. Let me be your vessel. Fill me with all that you are. Lay aside in me those things which aren’t yours and please God, help her through me.”
Finding my courage, I take a deep breath and get out of my truck and walk along the path to the doors, continually reminding myself of my purpose. I’m here for Monica. If it takes everything in me to do so, I will work to find a way to be the strongest I can be for her.
The side door enters into a small foyer. There are flowers and pictures throughout the space. The loss I feel emanating from those in the room moves me. I try to be as invisible as I can and focus my attention on the carpet. I know my feelings are inconsequential here. I must cast aside my shame and train my mind to express as much love as possible to those around me, but it is a struggle. Compassion is usually a task done without thought, but here it does not come easily to me. Here, I can’t seem to get out of my own story.
The building is as overwhelmed with people as the parking lot is with cars. I hope I can find Monica among them. I’m frustrated by the continued thoughts of unworthiness clouding my mind. It is difficult to think past them and to how I can best nurture her. Why can’t I let go? She asked me to come. Why am I so fearful of this experience? The critical voice returns, reminding me I don’t belong, and I wonder if the wiser path to take isn’t to just stand back and let her mourn with those who truly understand the grief she feels today.