Because I Could Not Stop For Death

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.
Emily Dickinson

I am trying to find a church that is hosting a Festival of Lessons and Carols.

I don't know when the Festival of Lessons and Carols became a part of my own, private Christmas celebration. Probably when I was in high school, in a choir, and we sang it. You are familiar with the liturgy for this celebration if you have heard Handel's Messiah.

In a supposedly joyous season, where every single thing has been a grind for us, where every single Christmas activity has made me want to duck for cover, where the sights and the sounds of the season remind me that I should have a 9 month old baby, and not an urn, I feel so terribly alone. In a room full of people, I am lonely.

About the only thing I was looking forward to was the Festival of Lessons and Carols our church was doing. It's not about my child or your child, it's about the Christ Child. It's about waiting and longing and celebration. Joy and repentance. It's about where I was at this year. It's about reconnecting to tradition. To the roots of my faith.

Except, not this year, at my church. This year, it's an advent pageant. With a set of parents and a brand new baby. A set of parents that in the 5 years we have been trying, have managed to have 3 kids. And suddenly the Festival of Lessons and Carols is almost entirely about children - the lack of children, other people's children, and quite without realizing or intending, our Church has left Mr. Spit and I behind. It's no one's fault, no one did anything wrong, it is simply what it is.

We were thankful for the advance warning, thankful for the person who warned us about the new parents and new baby, not sure if this would affect us. And while I might like to rage about a "kindergartenopoly" or to talk about the need to be sensitive to those who have something other than the traditional family, it won't change anything, and I'm not sure that anyone could change anything.

But we are left: tired, beleaguered, defeated, unwelcome. We will stay home again, as we did on Mother's Day, Father's Day, as we did when we knew a new father would be introducing his child. I will forgo a thing I love, because it has been altered past my understanding, into a source of great pain.

I have tried to make this blog post something other than it is. I have tried to find a lesson, a moral, even a witty observation. I have tried to find something good in this situation.

And I have nothing. I have the memory of driving home last Sunday, looking at Mr. Spit and shrugging. "I guess we aren't going to church next weekend". I am left with the same thoughts running through my head.

The death of Gabriel was hard, but it was only the beginning of hard. I have given up my hopes, my dreams, my belief in a certain kind of future. I have accepted that I will always be, even just a little bit, sad. I have accepted that I am a pariah of sorts, both in a church filled with children, and with my other relationships. It turns out that against all odds, people are convinced that dead baby is catching.

I have accepted that grief is a thing that takes just a bit from us each day, asking us, reminding us, forcing us to surrender a bit more of our hearts each time it comes to call.

And honestly? I'm mad and tired. This post is sad and pathetic and decidedly whinge-y. This was the one thing I wanted. You could keep your presents and your turkey and too many people, and Christmas parties and the lights on my house. You could keep watching the Sound of Music and listening to the Queen's message on the radio and making tourtiere on Christmas eve.

All I wanted was the Festival of Lessons and Carols. All I wanted was Once in Royal David's City and the words of John, about my Lord becoming flesh and words. All I wanted was to sing in the Bleak Midwinter and to hear about people walking in darkness seeing a great light.

I'm tired of death stopping for Mr. Spit and I.