I’ve had quite a few people ask me how I feel about religion, now, in the After. I wrote about it in the Before.
I’ll publish the where-I’m-at-with-God bit in the next post. I just thought we needed some background first.
In the Before, I believed in… Something.
In the immediate After… I was willing to believe in anything.
one of the first things I did, the morning After, while Tony was unconscious in the ICU, was to visit our local catholic church, to arrange for a priest to come and perform Last Rites. Why…? Well, Tony was Catholic. Not practicing Catholic, but Catholic enough that our son was baptised. And I remembered, when Tony’s nan was in her last hours, he held her hand and recited the Lord’s Prayer, over and over, to bring her comfort.
I think I wanted to bring the same comfort to him.
The priest attended the hospital, only after checking that it was ‘OK’- I was not Catholic, and while our son was baptised at this church, we weren’t technically part of the parish.
That stung, and still does.. that we had to meet some official requirement,s for prayer to be given.
Despite me asking him to, the priest didn’t wait for me to perform Last Rites. Tony’s mum, and a friend of ours, where there, both baptised Catholics…. I guess that was enough.
That stings too.
I visited the hospital chapel every day while Tony was in the ICU. I have myself to God, to Jesus, to whoever. I cried and sobbed and bargained and prayed and pleaded for my husband’s life.
And, failing that… I prayed for strength, the strength to do this, the strength to walk away, if that was what I had to do.
I guess my prayers were answered, to a point. I had the strength to walk away. But I’m too angry with a higher power to give them credit for that. That was all me.
In contrast to the Catholic priest, the pastor from the church where my children and I attended play group could not have been more comforting. He spoke to me on the phone every day while Tony was in hospital. The last night of Tony’s life, he came and sat with me. Prayed with me, prayed with Tony. He was compassion and love personified when I needed it most and the feeling of that comfort, that soft but strength that emanated from him… I don’t think that will ever leave me.
In the days that followed my husband’s death, the faith I had felt in the hospital flickered and dehydrated and died. The idea of attending church lingered for a while, right until we moved to Paradise, but more for the purpose of teaching my children about the concept of Heaven, of giving them a framework to understand where there father is now.
That idea, along with any lingering scraps of faith, has been washed away by now.
And that’s that. More in the next post….
Every day, while my husband was in hospital, I visit the chapel.
The last time is just half an hour before my final meeting with the ICU doctors, the meeting where I will find out my husband’s fate… I already know what it will be.
He will become an organ donor.
Security walks me to the chapel, then stops at the door. I can voices from inside, ten or more, singing or softly chanting in unison.
“Better wait till they’re done” says the guard, and leaves me alone in the hall.
I wait, as long as I can. Maybe two minutes, maybe three. Time is ticking away, and I have to see the doctors soon, and if praying is doing anything then I need to do it now.
Hesitantly, I knock. An older lady, calm in her eyes, she opens the door.
I can barely speak through my tears. I explain, my husband, he is in the ICU, I have my final meeting with doctors soon… I need to pray.
Without a word I am swept into a room of people, most of them elderly, all of them holding rosary beads. They sit me on a lounge, pass me tissues, one woman puts her arms around me while I sob, uncontrolled and uncaring, into her chest.
And they pray. Together, in unison, in English then in Latin. I have no idea what they are saying,but the rising swell of words and tone and faith…. it comforts me. I close my eyes, allow salty hot tears to run from my swollen eyes, feel the exhaustion of the last few days seep in to me, run through me, just for a moment, before I get up and have to face it all again.
I’ve never been in a place of such devout faith, such selfless prayer and love as I was, that day. The power of humanity, or the power of a Higher being… whichever it was, it was divine.