| | Comments (1)

That is how I am feeling today. Jet-lagged, didn't sleep well, on the go all day from picking up one sister at the airport at 10, to brunch, then on to the church for the memorial service, then the afterwards at the parish hall, a friends house and the visit to the roadside shrine at the site of the accident. So much palpable grief!
I learned a few things also. Sophia was baptized as an infant, and had spent 8 years going to school where she was taught the basics of the Christian faith in the Anglican tradition. The funeral service was said by an Anglican priest, the readings were from the King James version. The two hymns we sang were "The King of Love my Shephard is"(with the sung amens) and "Amazing Grace". All Saint's Episcopal church hasn't changed much from when I was a schoolgirl there in 1962, the altar is still ad orientem and the choir stalls are still between the nave and the sanctuary. The pipe organ is still as wonderfully melodic as ever. If anything, the church was more 'Catholic' than many modern Catholic churches. At the front of the church was a new statue of Our Lady of Walsingham - a gift, I am told, from a recent graduating class. From Sophia's class, actually.
The church was jam packed full. We were packed in the pews like airline passengers in coach class, the side chapel was full, the back was packed and rows of chairs were set up in front of the first pew and down one side of the center aisle, and still there were those who could not enter the church but had to listen from the courtyard. My sister commented that the only time that a church should be that packed would be for a wedding or a baptism. It is a crying shame that it was for a funeral.
I also learned for the first time that the accident was close enough to home that it was heard by Sophia's mom, and that she also got a phone call from one of the other people in the car to tell her that Sophia was still alive but unconscious. Cheryl (Sophia's mom) also told me that when she got to the scene, just as the ambulance was arriving, that Sophia was 'posturing' - this is a sign of a pretty severe brain injury. Still we were all hoping and praying that a miracle would happen. I really hadn't known just how severe her initial injuries were - those of us far away were only told little bits at a time. I don't know if it would have made any difference had I known. I don't think I could have prayed any harder - but maybe I would have prayed more often? I just don't know. It's all in God's hands anyhow - but isn't it always?
I had also forgotten that Sophia's dad comes from a Jewish background - until at the very end when a family member was asked to come up and read Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer for the dead. It seemed fitting that after Kaddish was said, the Anglican pastor blessed Sophia's cremated remains with holy water and incense - the holy water to remind us of baptism, the incense to symbolize how our prayers waft up to God our creator. And then we walked out of the church.
The shrine at the accident scene was also both touching and draining. Dozens of candles, many with icons of the virgin or of saints on them, all glowing their warm light against the twilight sky - notes and pictures, a huge cross, bells and ribbons and prayer flags. There is a term in Spanish (mexican spanish I think) for the roadside altars that spring up like this one did - but I can't remember what it is. At the shrine I met another mom who had lost a child at the age of 14 - this one 4 years ago to cancer. She talked briefly about what it means to be a member of a club that no one in their right mind would want to join - the mothers of dead children. Several of those who had laid Sophia out spoke about the importance of keeping this ritual, too, in the family and in the home. Sophia was born at home, with family friends aiding the midwife. It seems only fitting that many of these same friends should clean and dress her for her final bodily journey. I wish that I could have been there and at the same time am strangely relieved that I wasn't.
One platitude that I despise is when a well-meaning sympathizer says to a mourner "I know just how you feel". No one knows how another feels - even if one has been through a similar experience. No one. I've experienced loss in my life, miscarriages and the like - but that doesn't make me an expert on the grief of losing a child on the edge of adolescence. I've mourned with moms whose babies were stillborn or very premature, or sick or whatever. But that doesn't mean that I know how those moms were feeling. We just don't know.
Sophia had a life full of promise, and boom, it's gone from this world. Mercy and justice, love and hope, faith and reason, who knows what is in the mind of God? Still, what choice do we have? Lord, to whom shall we go?


Descansos? (sp?)

I think people say "I know how you feel" because, although they have experienced great grief themselves, they have no adequate way of expressing it without burdening the person they're trying to comfort. I learned not to say it years ago when I was a nurse (not a good one) because I observed how differently people deal with things. Jo Public doesn't have that opportunity. Still, after my mother died a priest gave me a book called Motherless Daughters and it was fascinating to see how women of different religions on the other side of the world had feelings incredibly like mine.

February 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28    
The WeatherPixie

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by alicia published on September 10, 2004 1:39 AM.

Thoughtful was the previous entry in this blog.

another prayer request is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.