Thursday, March 31, 2016

Of Daffodils, Death and Dastardly Words

There is one, nope, make that two things I intensely dislike about spring. First, to paraphrase the wonderful Mr. Oatmeal - Winter is when miserable water leaks from the skies and Spring is when miserable waters leak from my eyes. Yeah, the high pollen levels are brutal. I live in an allergy pill haze, at least a thicker phase than normal.

The other thing that gets to me happens right around now. Seeing random blooming daffodils in places where there is nothing else. Like a lone daffodil or scrabby scrappy unkept patch of them in in a traffic median or by the side of the road.

Not talking about those orderly well-groomed swaths of the flower in laid out bed between the roads. I'm taking about the accident ones, the ones that someone must have planted many years ago oh so proudly near to their houses and now the daffodils are the only thing left of a life lived long ago. It makes me wonder about who planted that original bulb and how sad it is that this is the only reminder of their lives and homes.

Which brings me to my crazy not-so-great morning. I got up today to see I had a few private messages on Facebook asking me if I'd heard about a former close friend from my old church. Around nine am my phone started blowing up with calls. One was a dear friend of mine I've managed to stay friends with post-fundamentalist church leaving. The rest were all ladies from my former church that turned on me when I left, only deciding to be pleasant and semi-friendly to me again once Possum Creek Church imploded and split again before renaming itself Creekside Church.

What everyone wanted to tell me was about the impending death of my former friend. The lady I'm still friends with and I had a nice discussion, even if she'd had some pretty significant issues with the dying lady.

The rest? Contacting me to try and gossip. They were mistakenly laboring under the idea that dying lady and I were still thick as thieves, like we were at church. I'd stopped having much to do with her once she called me one day and told me I had to decide between my friendship with her and a certain bit of theology. I told my friend that day that this is not how friendship works and if she was going to try to control what I believed then it was nice knowing her and I hope she had a wonderful life.

My last contact with her came through her husband, good friend of Tom Smith. Her husband sent a pile of ugly nasty emails to my poor husband Jim, just like Tom Smith did, when we dared move our membership to a mainline denomination. Screeds promising hell, torture, fire and brimstone for leaving Possum Creek. They said they would be praying for live coals to be dumped on our heads so that we'd been tortured and convicted to turn back to the old church. Last contact ever.

There was a pile of potential slut-shaming going on in the words of the ones calling me that aren't my friends. Most of them blamed my former friend's cervical cancer on 'promiscuity' This is another one of those big lies that Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity loves to push as the truth when really it's when you contract HPV that your risk of cervical cancer goes up. I had some choice things to say to the ones whispering condemning slut shaming words about this lady having cancer. This was, of course, all wrapped in the guise of wanting to let me know so I could pray for her. Followed by asking me a pile of questions because they wrongly assumed we are still best of friends.

They don't care about her. They just wanted to gossip and try to pick my brain for any details I might have. I have none.

Pointing out to them that regular pap smears and checkups tend to catch things like cervical cancer while they are still treatable fell on more than a few deaf ears during these phone calls. Going to the doctor for regular checkups was looked down upon and shunned in the old church. Take your supplements and avoid doctors is the modus operandi of many there, which is why there were some very preventable deaths that happened while I was a member.

By the time they found this lady's cancer it had spread to her brain, liver and other organs. It's beyond treatment now. I'm so sad for her and her family. Mostly I'm sad because in all the years I knew her she was incredibly unhappy, unsatisfied with her husband, her life, her kids. She's dying and leaving not much more behind than straggling out of place daffodils. What a waste of a life trapped unhappily in a toxic system

When our friendship ended, like it did with strange demands that seem normal in a high demand faith group, I mourned my loss of her. She'd been the only other one at our church that I could get to go out and do spontaneous fun activities with. I remember a long ago rainy Virginia summer afternoon we spent smoking cigars, drinking homemade wine and using an air rifle to murder tin cans off a porch rail. We both snuck away from the ladies retreat to do that one. We'd gone on vacation together, got belly button piercings together and shared our sorrows and joys with each other. When she forced me to chose between her and my involvement with the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship it was really hard. It felt like she'd died.

So when the gossip brigade of old church regulars came a calling I'd already mourned her loss. Hearing the news just made me disgusted with the waste of years she's spent being unhappy and creating problems with all the way out there ways she tried to fix her unhappiness, only to find it returning. I pray her family finds a way to say goodbye and that she draws whatever comfort she can find from her beliefs. Hopefully none of the prayer-gossipers make her last days miserable.

Don't waste your life unhappily stuck in something that hurts you. Do those things that matter to you while you have the chance.

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