Sunday, January 25, 2009
I didn’t know her very well, but I saw her sing every Sunday. She had dark brown hair, a nice smile, and she sang with conviction. Even when she was so pregnant she could barely inhale, she showed up and puffed and sang. Two weeks later she was back, singing, of course, with Baby Zoe nestled in a pouch around her shoulders. Zoe became a common appendage on stage with the band. The music calmed her down. It was familiar. She’d heard it before.
But this morning there was an empty microphone on stage and an announcement in church. “What was it?” Michelle asked on her way into the kitchen. “Something happened.”
“Suzanne died of a heart attack last night. No one knows why.”
Zoe’s mom went to bed and didn’t wake up. Thirtysomething is too young to die of a heart attack. It’s too young to lose your wife. Three months is too young to lose your mother.
Our church is one year old next week. We have had several weddings, multiple new babies, and now, our first funeral. It is the life of the church. We have learned to celebrate in community and we must learn to grieve together. So the women start to cook and the men organize the right technical equipment for the funeral. The pastors visit and comfort, the moms cry and hold Zoe, and the dads wrap arms around Paul’s shoulders. The children draw cards with pictures of heaven, babies, butterflies, and treble clefs. We bumble awkwardly, eyes red, prolonged hugs, hushed voices, shocked, deflated.
The band sings because they have to. They must sing until their fingers ache and their heads throb and their throats are hoarse. Suzanne’s songs. Zoe’s songs. Paul’s songs. God’s songs.
O Lord My God, when the storm is loud, and the night is dark, and the soul is sad, and the heart oppressed; then, as a weary traveler, may I look to you; and beholding the light of your love, may it bear me on until I learn to sing your song in the night.
-- George Dawson, Little Book of Prayers