Sunday, April 30, 2017

Surprising grief

Related imageMy friend Ruthie died very early on Easter Sunday morning. I like to think that the Easter celebrations in heaven were irresistible, and she just had to join in. So it is a bitter-sweet Easter season this year, feeling her loss while at the same time knowing that her suffering is turned to joy...

The last two weeks have been full of ups and downs. The first week was all about preparing music for her funeral and wondering about the future of the Emmaus Inclusive Catholic Community now that we've lost our priest and friend. The funeral service was really lovely, with a most excellent eulogy given by Ruthie's best friend, and the Emmaus community mass with Ruthie's sister priests presiding the following day was a special time for those of us who celebrated Eucharist with Ruthie these last five years.

We will probably gather again later in May to determine how our small Christian community can move forward without her, and to continue to grieve our loss together. In the meantime, I am always surprised by the ways my own grief wells up at the most unexpected times.

This morning at mass, it happened again, probably because the gospel reading was the story of Jesus meeting the disciples on the road to Emmaus... only I found myself walking that road with both Ruthie and Jesus, with them both talking to us about the events of the past days, our love, and our loss. Suddenly the tears were pouring down my cheeks and my husband put his arm around me. I almost sobbed aloud when he handed me a tissue.

It's been a while since I've lost a dear friend, and I'd forgotten how grief can surprise a person. A memory of Ruthie that suddenly returns. A phrase that brings her to mind. A conversation with another friend that reminds me of something Ruthie once said. She was probably the most avid reader of these Simple Moodlings, and always commented, in person, about something she read and enjoyed. But now she's gone, and our community will continue to catch glimpses of her in each other and in things, causes, people that we know she loved.

As much as we miss Ruthie, she is now one with the Christ-stranger on the Emmaus road, the one who walked with the disciples... recognizable in more subtle ways, maybe when we least expect it. At the moment, when I am reminded of her, my eyes fill with tears because I miss her. But give it some time, and it will be easier to keep in mind that she has turned the corner on a road that I am travelling too, just a little way behind her, and these tears will be replaced with a wistful smile.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Vincent. Unfortunately, something went wrong and I can't get it back. But I did appreciate it.

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