We all stood in front of the font yesterday and watched this little girl be baptized; all the kids, Steve, and our friends J. and J. who were chosen by Hannah to be Aubry’s godparents. For some reason, the ceremony hit me just right, and I spent most of it in tears. The good kind, watching the priest scoop water over her head and anoint her with the oil, hearing him pray over her, everything done with so much love that I felt like I was drowning in it. There is the part of the service, too, where the entire church stands up and agrees to help love and raise this little child, and to welcome her into their lives, and I find that amazing. You all know of my/our struggles with the LDS church, so I find this even more amazing, that not only did they love and support Hannah through her TEEN PREGNANCY, but they allow her to teach the nursery class (thereby exposing those Delicate Young Souls to her ‘sin’), and were the to stand as one to welcome Aubry officially into their church family. How much more blessed can we be?
(Me, I am pretty liberal in my beliefs, but there is enough of the Fundamentalist in me to be rather relieved that she is now baptized. I mean, the God I love and believe in would certainly not turn her away from heaven simply because she didn’t take part in some ceremony; really, what kind of an asshole would do THAT? But I am still slightly relieved to have it done. Just sayin.’)
After church, we went to J and J’s (minus Steve) and had a lovely lunch, and then J. and I went to visit a couple of friends of ours who are in the hospital. One is in the long-term-care center attached to the hospital, and I think she will be there until she dies; she was able to go home for a very short while, but is now back, and is beginning to look faded and a little crinkled, like a well-used paper bag. She is so beautiful; her hair is fine like a baby’s, short and sparse-I kept wanting to touch her head, but thought she might think I was stranger than normal. She seems at peace, speaking often of how blessed she is, how good her God is even in the midst of all of this, and I believe it was more a comfort to ME to see her than otherwise. I remember when my step-mom got like this, toward the end, with everything but her truest self stripped away-and she, too, was beautiful, more beautiful than I had ever seen her. I think maybe because they know God is near, and there is no reason to keep on the mask we all tend to wear.
The other friend also has cancer, which has metastasized into his brain. He was sitting up on his bed when we got there, legs crossed, looking poised and classy even in his blue hospital gown, bored and impatient, it seems, with the forced confinement. Six months, he said, though he of course hopes they are wrong-he was going for more tests today, but has already had all the radiation he can have and the chemo very nearly did him in the last time-treatment options are pretty limited at this point. But like S. was, he is beautiful; not at peace yet, afraid some about what happens afterward, but still in remarkably good shape. I love him, and for some reason he loves me, and I love him enough that I would smother him with a pillow should it get to that point, but of course I didn’t tell him that. Like me wanting to touch S’s head, I thought he might think that was a little odd.
So I love these people, and it is heartbreaking and sad to see, but also an honor to be part of the ending of a life, however peripheral a part that might be. I thought all day about how it is all part of living, and yesterday in particular I felt so intertwined with the lovely, beautiful bits of all these people’s lives-from Aubry’s birth and baptism to being at least present, if nothing else, with these other people as they near the end of their lives, and isn’t it just the most messy, horrible, lovely thing there is? To be part of it all? I remember reading more than once about needing the bitter to taste the sweet, and I find myself with big, greedy mouthfuls of both. I don’t want to exist, I want to live, and somehow this is part of the deal.
So this is very much where I am today, where my head and my heart is-a litle on the cusp of both life and death, and feeling grateful for every moment.