“And yet, I suppose you mourn the loss or the death of what you thought your life was, even if you find your life is better after. You mourn the future that you thought you’d planned.” (Lynn Redgrave)
It has been two years since my unexpected life began. I haven’t been haunted by the events that led to it for quite some time and then out of the blue, unexpectedly, I dreamed of a moment connected to it (not one of my favorite moments, by the way) and I could not shake the memory of it when I awoke.
The experience I dreamed of occurred a few weeks after certain events ended my life as I knew it. One ramification of the unexpected situation was that I was released from serving as president of the women’s organization of my church congregation. Another ramification of it was that due to the public nature of my former husband’s crimes and positions of leadership he had held within our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, local church leadership determined it was necessary to publicly address some of it to congregations our family had been closely associated with. My church leaders were very kind about it all; they told me it was necessary and explained why; they told me the day they were going to do it so I could be prepared (and probably, if I were smarter and raised by different parents, so that I could be absent from those meetings that day.) But unfortunately, I had been taught differently than that–taught to face what needs to be faced and that trials and tragedy don’t change what is right or what is expected of us.
It was a poignant lesson I learned in 1986 when my dad unexpectedly died in a plane crash. I was a teenager and dreaded going to church that Sunday after he died. He had been a leader in our congregation and I didn’t want to face people (even people I loved or people who loved me and my family) and I had a sneaking suspicion my mom was planning that our family would attend church. Late Saturday night I asked, “We don’t have to go to church tomorrow, do we?”
My mom was firm in her resolve and her answer. “Of course we do! Just because your dad isn’t here doesn’t mean the rest of us can stop living and it certainly doesn’t change what is right. We believe in going to church on Sunday, that is what we have always done and that is what we will continue to do.” She was a strong woman in a gentle kind of way (I don’t want to make her sound harsh–she was anything but that.) She took our family to church despite the loss we’d experienced just two days previously (although she relented a little bit and let us arrive 5 minutes late so we wouldn’t have to talk to anyone before the meeting.)
Interestingly, when our unexpected life began, one of my children asked me a question very similar to the one I’d asked my own mother 23 years before, “Mom, we don’t have to go to church this Sunday, do we?” and I gave an answer very similar to the one my mom had given me and we went to church and continued to attend each Sunday, regardless of some uncomfortable moments.
Like the Sunday I dreamed of recently. The Sunday I had to sit and endure public comments about my personal situation that was so public– comment about my former spouse’s crimes and the situation he created as a result. It was also the day the new presidency of the women’s organization of our congregation publicly recognized me, gave me a bouquet of flowers and thanked me for my service; and then after that, the leader of our cluster of congregations (known as a stake president) stood and addressed the issues that needed to be publicly discussed. I don’t remember a lot about that day, I mostly remember sitting in the back of the room, tears of grief, shame, humiliation, sorrow (and a host of other feelings and emotions) streaming down my cheeks as I stared at the beautiful flowers in my lap and endured what was being said to the women around me. I do remember a woman sitting by me on the back row, patting my arm or giving my shoulder a squeeze, through the whole thing. I can’t remember who she was, but how much I appreciated her kindness to me at that time! She helped me feel slightly less alone and helped me get through a very difficult moment.
That was a tough experience but I got through it and it’s now a part of my past. I honestly haven’t let myself think too much about it, or look back on it, until that recent morning when I woke up, tears streaming down my face. And #5 was asleep next to me in bed!
I was shocked. It has been two years! I am living a new life, remarried to a wonderful man, and I wake up crying over something that happened two years ago? I felt a little bit crazy. I didn’t want #5 to see, or know, he was married to such a wacky wife that dreamed about the past and woke up crying! I confess, I even felt a little bit guilty as I am the recipient of many miracles and kindness and have much to be thankful for; I have the great blessing to be remarried and am truly happy again–I can’t (or shouldn’t) be crying about the past (even if it was unintentional–something I woke up doing in a dream!)
I quickly got up to hide my insanity, pulled myself together and went on about my day. Except that I couldn’t quite shake the feelings that dream left me with. I felt slightly emotionally “off.” And that was just the start of the day.
“Going back to Ireland involves at least six to seven emotional breakdowns for me per day.” (Anjelica Huston)
Stay tuned. More emotional breakdowns to come.