Monday, June 25, 2018

Triggers

When the longing hits, it's a full body experience.

It can be triggered by driving past a restaurant we liked, walking into church, seeing friends he loved, seeing an art exhibit he would have found interesting, coming home from a party. . .

The longing is so intense it takes my breath away. Just today I almost had to pull over to the side of road to catch my breath because it was so intense. All from passing a church where he served.

This weekend I met my new grand nephew for the first time, and as I drove home, all I could think about was how Gayland would have loved him. Gayland loved this baby's mama from the first time he met her as a little girl, and he was overjoyed with the news of her pregnancy. He would have loved seeing this baby boy's beautiful hands, and would have marveled at his composure at being surrounded by all the Sherrods -- something even Gayland found overwhelming at times.

Waiting on a vote at General Convention in Philadelphia, 1997

This week, as I get ready to go to the General Convention of The Episcopal Church next week -- this is the governing body of our church that meets every three years -- I miss him so much it hurts. For years we went to Convention seeking to change things in this diocese so women could be ordained priests here, and LGBTQ Episcopalians would be loved and welcomed in all orders of ministry. He paid a big price for this advocacy work, forced into early retirement by a bishop who couldn't do anything to me, a lay woman, but could go after my priest husband. The financial hit from that was a big one, one that remains with me, but Gayland never regretted our work.

Our partnership strengthened both of us, but certainly me. I found the courage to take on the church governance because I knew he had my back, that no matter what happened, he was there with and for me, even if he was back at home taking care of everything there. But he always managed to come for at least part of Convention to be with me. He was my strength and a lantern to my feet. Going to convention alone feels so wrong.

And now as I look down, I see all the dogs have gathered by my feet, and the cat is curled up next to my keyboard.  This always happens when I write things like this. So here we sit, one very lonely human amid five animals, all of us missing him.

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