I went to church yesterday for the first time in a very long time. For me, church has not been the most comfortable place to be since Miles died. Perhaps that's opposite of what most folks would expect. Church is supposed to be comforting, welcoming, all of that. But that's not how it feels to me. In church, people who are hurting or sad (or even in the process of going to hell and back basically) are sometimes briefly mentioned as if they are random people out there but certainly not one of us because all of us should just be so joyful that it couldn't possibly be one of us. It's hard because so many of the songs, the sermons, the prayers, the currents in general are of pure joy. And that's not how I feel. I do feel joy in a simple, daily kind of way. More than that, I feel joy that we had Miles, and I praise God for him and our four-and-a-half months with him. (In fact, my faith has grown many ways and perhaps that's a story for another day.) But it feels so fake to sit in church pretending that everything is hunky dory. Because it's not. Simply put, I'm happy and I'm incredibly sad--all at once; I guess I just need both of those feelings to be recognized to be comfortable, whether it's with a relationship or with a church. And I know that the church is full of people who are hurting and have their own "hidden" concerns...so I'm not alone, but it seems like it and so I'd rather actually be at home alone than alone in the midst of people...
Still, I want church to be a part of a life. So I went.
I sat with a friend who I hadn't seen for several months. At that time, I was about 20 weeks pregnant, and she had showed such joy that I was pregnant and had showed such compassion in listening to how difficult the pregnancy was emotionally since I was 1. heartbroken that we didn't have Miles and the new baby here (and pregnancy enhances that hurt rather than erasing it) and 2. a psycho mess with feeling like I had no control over the health of the new baby (and was giving away the microwave, not putting the computer on my lap, not getting pedicures, not taking more than one Lactaid a day, throwing a fit over the broken high efficiency lightbulb and the possibility of it leaking Mercury, and so on).
Now I was sitting next to her in church. That's when it happened. Suddenly I wasn't alone.
After telling me that I looked beautiful (clearly getting the conversation off to a great start) and chatting about general things that we had in common, she asked honestly, "Has this pregnancy gotten any easier?" It wasn't the terribly polite and fake conversation filler "How are you?" It was the real deal--the "How are things for you? What is it like to be you right now?" It was exactly the question that I long for people to care about, to ask about, to then sit and listen and not try to rush my answer or pretend like they already know or be scared of what wildly intimate response I might give.
And it caught me off guard. For months, I have always been ready with my answer because I knew if someone opened the door just a little, I had to be ready to take advantage of it. But with time, I realize that I must have given up waiting for people to ask me--because THAT is the thing that changes with time--with time, people think that the heartache is over, it's no longer important or appropriate to talk about Miles, and probably that we should be "over it."
So she asked. And I stumbled. And she waited. And it was wonderful.