Last week Matt and I bought the biggest bag of clementines I’d ever seen. We let them spill all over our kitchenette table and wondered how we’d ever eat them all. “By the time we finish this bag, we’ll be parents!” But once that assumption was made, I noticed we were both eating two or three clementines a day. Now there are just two left and I’m about to peel one of them.
Last week I was begging this baby to stay put until a funeral was over. We celebrated new life last Wednesday with a beautiful service and confident hymns. Since then, I have been waiting for a different celebration of new life – one that does not have an official time and date to print in the paper. Each day further convinces me that I’m terrible at “real life Advent”, the intense waiting and watching and wondering moments in life.
I have distracted myself with wives’ tales about inducing labor all week, but have instead checked dozens of tricks off the list as defunct. Yesterday was my due date and I have decided instead to make lots of plans for the next few days in hopes that they will all need to be canceled and replaced with one, grand un-planned event.
Each day I show up to work I am greeted with exasperated looks. It’s both entertaining and discouraging to have so many people surprised and disappointed to see you. Today a funeral director asked me when I’m due and I got to respond with a smirk (as I squatted to get something off a low bookshelf), “Yesterday”. My uterus is like a rent controlled apartment on the upper east side – awesome and hard to leave.
I got to sit in a back pew for the service today since Pastor Mark was up to bat. My eyes welled with tears as grandchildren took turns telling stories about their grandmother – the races she ran until age 86, her delicious cooking and her love that shined brightly through dementia. I watched her three grown children play their clarinets to Just a Closer Walk with Thee and How Great Thou Art. My heart filled with their gratitude and memories.
I cried watching this sister and her two brothers make beautiful music for God and everyone in the sanctuary. I gave thanks for my brothers and the friendship we share. I don’t think we’ll ever form a clarinet trio, but our bond and genes and humor and adoration for each other feels a lot like good music.
Every family tends to gloss over the hard or unfavorable stuff at funerals and this family is probably no exception. But in the end, people come together to remember the best things they will continue to treasure. They speak of deep relationships, solid values and the way love highlights the good stuff.
I left the sanctuary today convinced that we celebrate the beginning of life like we end it – focused on the beautiful things, showing gratitude for each other and making really good music together. We don’t get to know when or how it will happen, but when it does we come together in celebration of the good stuff.