For the past seven years, this has been a difficult day for me. For it was on this day seven years ago that my mother died. The specific date was November 5th, which will be on Tuesday this year. But for me, the day I remember is All Saints Sunday. My mom died right about 11am. Everyone was gathered around her bed and we had some sweet special moments there in that space and that moment. But when that moment was over, I had to get out of the house. I couldn't stand to be there when the people from the funeral home came to take her away. I knew I wasn't ready to watch that happen. So I got dressed. I put on my jeans and my favorite pink sweater and my black ballet flats and I drove to church. My reasoning was that I wanted to tell some people in person that mom had died rather than calling them on the phone or having them hear it from someone else. By the time I got there it was about 11:30 so I knew the service was well underway. We never went to the late service, so I decided the best and easiest thing to do would be to slip into the balcony. I did, and just as I did, the portion of the service began when they were reading the names of all the saints of the church who had died in the last year. As each name was read a bell was rung and a candle was lit. I didn't hear any of those names. I just cried for my mom, who was now with the saints in glory. I couldn't help but think of the line "every time a bell rings an angel gets their wings" and thinking that perhaps, as these bells and all the others all over the world were ringing that maybe my mother was getting her wings. I knew that she was standing and walking without help, that she wasn't hurting or struggling to breathe. I knew that she was loving on her parents and brother and my twin sister and the baby she miscarried. I had all these beautiful comforting images, but still I cried.
I didn't know what to expect as we prepared for church. I knew that, while still fairly liturgical, this is still a baptist church and I don't know how big a day All Saints Sunday is to them. I had also just returned home from another session of Academy, so all that is still being processed, so I knew that something was going to happen today but I didn't know what it was. All Saints wasn't the focal point of the service, but it was mentioned and there was a very lovely moment in which everyone was invited to share the names of the saints in their own lives. Since Jeff was sitting with the choir I was by myself but it was a very nice little moment to remember momma, daddy, and my twin as well as others. I don't know that I would call it a "healing" moment, but somehow it felt right.
It will be a few more years before November 5th falls on a Sunday again. I'm wondering if that will have a different impact on me. I'm not too worried. I know that there is grace to be found and shared in all these moments and I'm very blessed to be surrounded by what is indeed a great cloud of witnesses!