Faith. Faith is not a word I've used a lot in my writing. It's not a word I've really felt much throughout this experience either, which is probably why it has stayed out of the conversation to this point. But I think today is an appropriate day for some discussion on the topic.
I was raised Catholic. Attended Catholic school. Sang in the choir. Attended a Catholic youth leadership camp one summer. Was a group leader for faith-based retreats hosted by my high school. I am very grateful for my Catholic upbringing. For having the concept of faith instilled in me from a young age. Once I left for university, my involvement in the Catholic church waned a bit -- easy to do when it's not being thrust in your face every day. But even though it wasn't at the forefront of my day to day life, I always connected with the idea that I was Catholic and I had a "Catholic community" should I ever need to or want to participate in that aspect of my life.
My husband was raised Catholic as well. His experiences were not quite the same as mine. But he was baptized. And so when we discussed having children there was little to discuss around the subject of baptism. Our kids would be baptized Catholic. (There's still some debate about Catholic school -- he went to public school [uh oh]), but for the most part, any conversations around children and religion were very easy.
When Ryan died, my already seriously diminishing relationship with God and my faith was rocked. No. Not rocked. Basically obliterated. I had experienced loss before. Loss from illness. Loss from tragic accidents. And in each moment, I had questioned Him. Wondered why bad things happen to good people. But tried to find solace in the whole "trust His plan" mentality.
So then Ryan died. And I more or less adopted a "God who?" kind of feeling. Maybe even something along the lines of the mantra for the Ugandan tribe from The Book of Mormon. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can Google it I'm sure.) Basically it's awful and I quit Him. Screw "God's plan." And I could give two shits about how he works in mysterious ways. What was the point in faith if you'd live a good life and then the worst most horrible and unspeakable things could still happen to you?
I haven't spoken to God more than a few words since then. There might have been a "Please let this baby be okay," when I was pregnant with Brayden. And then a quick, "Thank you," after he was born. But I was (am?) just not totally ready to reconcile with him after what happened that September.
Well, today, I took Brayden to church. We've been talking a lot about his baptism and getting ready for that, and there was this voice in me that was saying how important it was to actually participate in my faith if we're going to baptize him. (Especially if Catholic education isn't necessarily a given at this point -- yes, we still have a few years to go before we have to think about school, but I'm a planner, what can I say?)
For today it was just Brayden and I. And it was fine. It was mass. What can I say? It's not like I walked in and was struck by lightning. Or even the opposite. I certainly didn't have any great epiphanies. The skies didn't open and fill me with the light of God's love or anything. But, if I'm being honest, I had two very serious "moments."
The first came at communion. I carried Brayden with me as I accepted the Eucharist. The deacon (I think that was his title -- there were 3 different men presiding over mass today -- seemed like a lot to my memory of mass), but anyway. The deacon gave Brayden a little blessing before we walked away and I was slammed with the memory of the priest who came to the hospital the night Ryan was born and blessed him as he laid in my arms. It was this totally gutting moment of have my living baby be blessed for the first time while thinking of my dead son being blessed for the only time. I'm not even sure I remember making the decision to have the priest come that night. It's all such a blur. But there was definitely something in that moment that took the wind out of me.
So then I go sit back down. Kneel actually. As the Catholics do the whole stand, sit, kneel thing, this was a kneeling moment. I had done a pretty good job up to this point in the service of focusing so much on keeping Brayden content or sleeping that I hadn't done much connecting with the mass. But this point, the after communion, kneel and pray part, was emotional. I didn't say much. And much of what I did say I guess is between me and Big Guy, but I found myself in tears. (How dramatic to be the lady in the back of the church crying silent tears alone during prayer.) But it happened. I wiped them away and silently shook my head at myself. What the hell was happening to me?
I'm not changed by this one experience with my great return to church. I'm not sure I'll be "changed" at all. I have my feelings about God and all that's happened. I know now that God isn't perfect. And I've said it before, that I'm still trying to forgive Him and accept Him for that. But I'm glad I went. I'm glad that despite my reservations with my faith that I can still be open enough to give these experiences to Brayden. And maybe church will become one more place I will feel comfortable talking to Ryan. Maybe some day, church will be a place that Brayden will talk to Ryan, too.
You never know. God works in mysterious ways. (Ugh.)