This one is going to be hard to write obliquely, but I'm up to the challenge, and it's Christmas, so here goes.
This was my outfit going to church last night. Back in the day, in my childhood, we dressed up for church, but in adulthood, I like to snub my nose at God a little with my fashion choices. Casual only, you know? But believe me, God has reciprocated in spades, and I am treated just as casually by the Almighty as I treat Him or Her. To calamitous effect.
Susan had invited me to her church earlier in the week, where she and her husband Nick were ushering for the Christmas Eve service. I got there late, fresh from some new sexual humiliation that I brought upon myself. I was greeted by Susan and Nick, and then seated myself in the balcony of the church. Immediately, two little girls came out and sang a carol and it was so sweet and sad that I began to weep, weep, weep, like I haven't wept since I saw "The Impossible" or "Lorenzo's Oil." I wept so hard that I had to go to the bathroom three times during the service to blow my nose. It was really gross. Susan held me at one point, when I was trying to find the bathroom the first time.
While I was watching the service, I started thinking about the many church services I attended as a youth, with my mother and father and brother. Like, every Sunday for most of my childhood. My mother sang those songs. Those hymns, and those rote prayers. And then I started thinking, of course, about visiting my mother's ashes in her funeral home with my father. Maxine forced me to, and I'm glad she did. In the funeral home, Dad started singing this hymn that I had never heard before. I stood there, astonished, because I had never heard him sing before, and I certainly never thought about him loving my mother enough to sing to her. You know, your parents are your parents, and you don't think of them as loving beings. The song that he sang was "And the Mighty Organ Played, 'O Promise Me.'" I looked at Maxine and thought, "Does this make you feel something, like it does me?" but Maxine was inscrutable as always. Hard as a jewel, really. Who was he singing that song for? Did it have any history for him and Mom? Who knows…they never SPOKE.
Tonight, I called Maxine at around 8 pm and told her that I'd just cried in church, that I just couldn't stop, and that I'd been thinking about Dad, and she asked me "isn't it a bit early for church?" That's what she asked me. Then she asked me what movie we were going to for Christmas. We always see a movie for Christmas, because we don't like to talk about our feelings (at least to one another). And it's usually a Hobbit movie. This time it will be the one about the five armies, or such. ONE MUST NEVER TALK ABOUT ONE'S FEELINGS TO MAXINE.
This has only happened once before in my life (shout out to Cherita!) but then a friend rescued me. Susan took me into her home and fed me and her parents were there and they were adorable. They held me there all night in their embrace and I left feeling incredibly changed. I do know that Susan knows how I feel about her, but just in case she doesn't, I want her to know that she saved my life tonight.