When asked the question for the first time last November,* I was in what I then thought to be the worst throes of post-transplant illness: the new-to-me kidney-number-three plugging away at barely thirty-five percent function, a lymphocele joining my apparent belly-party** and deciding to band above, around and below the kidney and ureter, and a left leg and foot swelling to the point of my no longer being fazed about wearing a fuzzy blue hand-knitted slipper out in public.***
I had not seen the Man Who Would Ask the Question for sometime, at least two years by that point. We had been close, once, when I still lived in B.C. But that was a long time ago.
We ran into each other on a Sunday. A Sunday morning, to be exact. Like most other days at the time, I remember feeling worn and struggled to even stand upright. At one point in our brief conversation prior to the ‘sit-your-buttocks-down-can't-you-hear-that-the-service-is-starting-happy-clappy’ music beginning in earnest from the front, this visiting man, with concern on his face, quickly asked how things had been lately. And me, being the gracious lady that I am, rather forcibly spitted out: hell. Things have been hell, in fact.
(And then I admit that I smiled, an involuntary and frustratingly conditioned reaction to the realization of my not being as nice as was expected).
A few last chairs were being shuffled out. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the usual (unsupervised) child or two running around with the gold-fabric flags**** in hand, oblivious to everyone they hit with them as they skidded past. Someone put the offering bucket at the front. Without the pens, of course. There were never any pens.
And then, just as volume of the room increased to an even greater extent, with people beginning to lift hands and get churching. he turned to me, seemingly undaunted and dared this: so then what has been the worst thing?
His question stopped me.
The question! Such a question -- one focused on what went wrong -- was not asked. Didn’t he know? I was aghast: he must know! Church-goers and positive-mantra junkies alike demand positivity! Be blessed! There are blessings! Self-determination! Focus on those darned things to be thankful for! Every single one of them! God knows what he is doing!***** But in one question, one audacious-breaking-with-societal-norms, risky-as-hell question, I felt validated.
*I was asked the exact question again recently, by a different person. It’s times like these that I suspect that the Universe is trying to tell me something.
**I was not invited.
***eventually anything can be perceived as normal. It just takes time.
****not a big fan of the flag-thing myself, but I can respect if someone else feels the need to express themselves in such a manner. Here’s my two-cents though: does God like flags? Has anyone asked him?
And, why aren’t there any rainbow flags used in church services? I like rainbows. Maybe God does too.
*****and no, I am not going to actually answer what the worst thing is and/or was. For nearly a year, I have wracked my brain, stayed up at night, and discarded too many blog posts attempting to answer such a question. It’s a gritty one, and one that I am unable to quantify
******I seem to be picking on church-goers and positivity people here. I suppose I am. (I am also keenly aware of my generalities).
And just to clarify further: I do think the Creator knows what he/she is doing. I also think that he/she is not as afraid of our grief as we are.