A is confirmed

Dear Mom,

Today was Good Shepherd Sunday. All the windows are covered with maple pollen, the dandelions are in full flower, the lilacs have just started to bloom, and the white bass should be biting soon. A was confirmed in the faith of her family, in the church where you were baptized. They took the grandparents’ picture at the baptismal font, to remind everyone of that, that it was like you were there.

They commune by families at confirmation and enough cousins showed to fill the whole communion rail twice. We still stick together, even your funny cousin, Kenny, was there, with his gold necklace and his bright red shirt. He gave A a fishing rod and a devotional book. B and I both wore purple and we sat in the pew together — but next year, she we will be confirmed, and I will sit in the pew alone and wonder how this all perpetuates itself, year after year, generation after generation. We all know all the words. It is meet, right, and salutary. Maybe that’s why; we’ve been singing these words since the 1570s. Longer. Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace / According to thy word.

A is: different. She’s stronger, somehow, than I was, at that age. She was taller than everyone in her class except one of the boys. She told her mother she wouldn’t wear heels — she wore black riding boots with buckles at the ankle and the calf. She didn’t wear a white dress under her robe — she picked a knee-length sleeveless dress with a circular pattern. At lunch, disrobed, she said the pattern on her dress reminded her of the pictures of meiosis in her biology book. Brother said at lunch that she got in trouble for reading ahead of her grade level in the school reading program and they had to go to a meeting because she talked back to the teacher.

I’ve been so afraid that we’ve been repeating family stories — but today I thought: maybe she is unique. I hope you’d approve.

I admit that I told A today, “Grandma is so proud of you,” even though I don’t believe in an afterlife myself. I think she might. And I know you did. We are still at sea without you. I miss you and Bro is really suffering. He gave to A the gift you gave him for his confirmation and I could see on his face how much it hurt him to pass it on. And yet sometimes I wonder why you let us think you could control every outcome. A death is the most normal thing in the world, we are all dying every second, and we can’t we come to terms with yours?

I don’t know how to end this. It was a beautiful day and I wanted you to know your granddaughter is a marvel. I love you. We love you.

Helplessly,

Serv

~ by Servetus on May 8, 2017.

30 Responses to “A is confirmed”

  1. Beautiful and sad. I am offering a virtual hug – which is supposed to let us forget that we are dying every second…

  2. Hugs from the heart Serv. X

  3. Aww, congratulations to A. My son got confirmed on Saturday 🙂
    A massive hug from me. It’s on these occasions we miss loved ones, but I believe that as long as you carry your mum in your hearts, she lives on in all of you.

  4. It is true we miss the loved one who is dead all the time but on specific days like this one we feel much more the loss. But it is a good thought, your mum will rest at your side ( metaphorically) wish you and your family all the best

  5. This is so beautiful, Serv. It too hits me at a very tender time in my life. We just laid to rest the matriarch of our family at 109! Her legacy in all of us is a gift, yet her absence is a gaping hole. Caleb’s illness and its continuous toll has changed us all…things are crashing and converging as each member of our large extended Italian family handles the intricacies of grieving and living in the face of so much monumental change very differently. As I help my own aging parents, I see how the generations prior to mine have laid open the need for me to fill their shoes. I am amazed at how fast this seems to have happened, yet it was always expected, no? Why we still marvel at a natural process… who knows. Thinking of you from here…wishing you and your family well.❤

    • Wow: 109! I am sorry for your loss. Like you, I understand that everyone is coping (and copes in their own way) — such a struggle. Maybe Asian families do it better — in a lot of Asian cultures there are constant reminders that the kids have to grow up to take care of the parents, that the parents will be gone some day. Thanks for the good wishes — and they are coming right back at you.

  6. Oh, you made me very teary-eyed reading this post. I think when there is a ritual like a confirmation, the hole that is left by parents who have passed away just seems so big and obvious. Our minds always go back to ourselves at that age. I’m sure it was a very emotional day for your brother, and for you too. Sending you a warm hug. And the fact that your niece “talked back to a teacher” made me smile. To think that someone could get in trouble for reading a grade ahead is depressing indeed!

    • My dad told an interesting story about the public examination / testimony of confirmands when he was being confirmed, and I realized that beyond seeing a picture of my mother’s confirmation photo I don’t know anything much about her particular day. If only we could think of all the questions to ask, and ask them.

      To be fair — she’s reading five grades ahead and has been for a while, but this is about something called “Reading Counts” — they get points toward a prize for their reading, but most of what she’s read only counts for higher grades, even though she can prove she read it. What a situation like this ends up doing is sort of delegitimating incentive programs for the participants, and I don’t know that that’s all bad, actually — she’s already been reading out of her own interest for quite some time — but I’m delighted she told the teacher how stupid it was. Chip off her aunt’s block, even if it means extra trips to school for the parents 🙂

  7. Beautiful

  8. Dear Serv; I was so moved to read your post “A is confirmed”. It has made me reflect on my own father’s death and how unprepared I was for it, even at 47; 10 years ago. Grief is something we are never taught and it such a personal journey. I have come to a place with my loss that I know my father is never far away from me. I can still see his hands in my mind, and remember how he held me when I was sick. I can relate to your story, a family event occurs and you know your parent would have loved to have been there. Believe me when I say this, they are, in you. Thank you for sharing. I wish you peace Serv

    • Thanks for this thoughtful comment. I do sometimes wonder at how much of my mother is in me. I wish there were some meaningful guidebook for grief, though. It’s good to know that maybe 10 years’ distance will make things more peaceful.

  9. Beauttiful Serv. There are just times the memories come flooding back and we miss those who go before us, having just lost my eldest sister out of the blue, I have not adjusted to many things yet and somethings are just starting to hit. But even if you don’t believe in the afterlife they are always carried with us inside, tucked away and they come to front at some of the simplest moments, brought on by a song, smell, thought and something special like you experienced. Thank you for your beautiful writing and sharing. I only wish I had the gift to express myself better. Hope this makes sense.

  10. Beautiful! (((Hugs)))

  11. I am glad it was a lovely day although your mom was deeply missed!
    Fühl Dich mal virtuell ganz doll umarmt! :*

  12. Superbe…et émouvant.

  13. A very moving post… I sometimes wonder why often are so complicated. I am adding another, belated virtual hugs to those which have already been sent. I only understood through the comments what “reading ahead” actually means. Good to see A. is reading what she wants to read and for letting her teacher know what she thinks about a rule which – to me – seems rather absurd. Deine Nichte scheint nicht gerade angepasst zu sein? 😉

    • I think in some ways she is (like being on sports teams and such) and in other ways not much (she finds school itself really annoying and does much of her active learning in other settings). I don’t think she’s interested in achievement for the sake of achievement at all (very different from me at that age; I would have conformed in that situation). She shares the entire family streak of not liking to be told what to do.

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