I looked around the auditorium of the church I've attended for 14 years this month. The people there have been amazing to me and my family through our highs and lows. Our pastor encourages our congregation regularly to be "Jesus in skin" to those around us. To "see the need and meet the need" of the people in our lives. His words this morning were encouraging and uplifting, as usual, but it was all I could do to not take my pile of damp Kleenex and exit the building. Quickly. Certainly, it has nothing to do with this church or the precious people who attend it, but it is almost too hard to be there without D. I've wondered if I should just visit somewhere else, but I'm reminded of my promise to D to not make any major changes for a year.
When I left after the service, I ran into a lady I've known as long as I've been at my church. She hugged me and asked how I was. I decided to be honest and told her I was sad. She inexplicably (how often do you get to use that word?) asked me why. I realized she did not know I'd lost D, and I was not going to be the one to tell her. Not now, not no how. I mumbled something about the season and hurried to my getaway car.
Good lesson in remembering that the world does not revolve around me, and my life is not on the forefront of everyone's mind. I have a sweet friend who gently reminded me recently that I have not been very plugged into my church in the seven years that D has battled cancer. We attended as much as we could, but have not been regulars in Bible Study or Family Groups (the two places that people in our church connect.) She told me this to help me understand that when people don't call or come by it is not because they don't care: it is because I have "fallen off the radar" through my prolonged absence.
I have a term I use when my six-year old students want to blame another student for their own actions: "You are the boss of your body." For example, when someone wants to tell me, "Well, Johnny made me do that", I always remind them that no one can make them do anything wrong, they made the choice to do the offending thing. (Which I find is much more effective then the old chestnut, "Well, if Johnny jumped off the roof, would you jump, too?") So, guess what? I am the boss of my body. If I want to reconnect with the people around me, it is my responsibility to initiate it. Not to blame others for not being aware of every hairpin turn in my emotions and circumstances. Good to know.
And then a sweet thing happened tonight: the lady who had been sitting in front of me at church this morning called. She told me she'd heard this was my first Christmas alone, and that maybe we could get together later. She lost her husband just a few months before I lost D, so she is not much further down the road than I am. But she was reaching out to me. Because she is the boss of her body. And she apparently chooses to extend a hand (and not point a finger) if she is feeling low.
And when Christmas is finally over? I'm taking that hand. And, hopefully, extending mine to someone else.