After my ex-husband got the ruling that I could not have the boys on Sundays and Wednesdays, I couldn't bring myself to go to church anymore. I went once, and everyone asked me about the boys. I started to cry, and I couldn't focus on the sermon. Each week, I had another excuse for why I was just missing *this week*. Now, I've realized that I haven't been to church for most of the summer.
Today, I was determined that I needed to be in church. I was slow getting ready, missed breakfast, but I had made up my mind that I need to be faithful. I got to church right as the service was starting. Greeters were still at the door to the lobby, but it wasn't the greeter that I'm used to, the one who knows my story and understands where I am right now. It was the greeter that used to meet us at the door when the boys were with me. The one who would encourage my oldest to go to group even when he didn't want to. I hadn't seen this greeter in months. First thing he asks me is if my son is hiding from him. This was always part of their routine. My son would try to avoid youth group because he was shy, and this greeter had made it his mission to encourage my son to engage.
I try to answer him, but I fumble with my words and begin crying. He is shocked and confused. He says something about being sorry, but I don't quite catch the words. I sit in the lobby, unable to enter with the worship. Stragglers pass by and acknowledge me, looking away quickly when they see the tears in my eyes. No one engages with me. The pastor sees me and waves, then he turns to enter the gymnasium for worship. I try to listen to the praise songs reflected on the screen, but the words are jumbled in my mind.
After about 15 minutes of trying to hold back the tears, the same greeter came through the lobby. Pity showed in his eyes as he told me that he would send up some prayers for me, then he continued on his way, stopping to talk with another family and play with their toddler. I stood and hobbled for the door, tightly grabbing my cane. Grief was wracking my body as I tried to walk to my car. The gravel on the steep driveway slipped under my feet, seeming to share the loss that I felt. It slid away, tumbling down the hill, one tiny rock at a time.
I climbed into my truck, grasping the handle to pull myself in. Closing the door, I allowed the tears to fall down my face. Slowly, they eased enough that I could drive home. Perhaps, next week I will try again.