I’m thinking about everything that has happened since my father passed away. About the things that you’re not able to process in that moment. And afterwards you think you would be able to understand, but you still can’t. When the initial shock has settled like protective cotton around your head and you can see the course of events, as if in slow motion. The protective layer of cotton helps you move forward, hour after hour after you received the news. But for every passing day the layer of cotton gets thinner until one day… BAM! The sorrow explodes and hits your entire body that desperately tries to take in the irrevocable truth: that the person we love won’t ever come back.
I saw my mother’s silhouette when she slowly opened the curtains this morning. She looked out at the white winter sky as if to assure herself that everything out there was still there. The rowan trees, the sky behind the mountain, the country road that curves so that you must push down on the brake a little before going into the curve. When I saw her, I thought to myself, to think that she can stand up when she’s just lost her loved one. My childhood home was covered in snow with frost on the windows yesterday when my mom and I came home. Tired and empty we wandered around the house with double layers of sweaters. In every room we were met by memories that told a story of a life as it once had been.
Inside the front door, in the red plastic box laid father’s keychain. Behind the brown lightly woven drapes in the hallway stood his black winter boots – the ones he always put on when he was going down to the firewood cabin or to use the snow thrower. Further inside the house, in his office, it looked as if someone had pressed pause. On his desk laid a few piles of paper, a little note with his handwriting on it, opened letters and his dark blue calendar with his glasses folded neatly on top. But he wasn’t there, and never will be again.
When opening the bedroom door, I could hear the sound from the radio on low from the kitchen. My mother is making breakfast. I’m replaying the knock on the door from yesterday in my head. The sound that brought our wandering to a stop. Outside the front door was an elderly man who lives a few villages away. I could see that he hesitated a moment while reflecting upon our tear exhausted eyes. “I brought a piece of pork for the birds, he said gently. Can I put it next to the bird table outside the kitchen window? It could be nice to look at the birds”.
Silent looks where exchanged. Mother nodded her head. In some way it was nice to have him in our hallway. His presence broke our mourning and reminded us that life is continuing outside… even though we aren’t there. He then carried two paper bags to the fireplace in the living room. “When you light the fire in here it will light faster if you use these wood kindling that I have carved”.
I looked down into the bags and thought to myself that it must have taken him a very long time to carve all of that. Later I stood by the kitchen window and saw him carefully preparing the bird table and strenuously sanding the icy walkway outside our front door. A while later, when his car turned out from our courtyard my mother and I both broke down in tears. We cried at the kitchen table with our hands covering our faces, both thankful that somebody had knocked on our door. That someone had the courage to step into our house of mourning with a simple expression of love.
(Excerpt from the devotional book Stjärnklart)
Can we meet each other with compassion in a vulnerable space? If the answer to that question is yes, then we know something about the church we will come back to after the pandemic.
Charlotte Höglund, Pastor