Today is Ash Wednesday and the first time I’ve gone to church since Paul died, other than his funeral and memorial service and a wedding. It’s the first time I’ve been able to bring myself to go alone, and it was harder than I thought in some ways yet easier in other ways.
Note: This post was originally shared on my “widowhood” blog, “Frances 3.0: Still in Beta”.
Because I work at a large university, there is a church near campus that is dedicated to serving the student population. Paul and I never attended Mass there, so I figured it would be easier than going to the church we attended together. Plus the fact that the church was holding its Ash Wednesday Mass around the lunch hour; presumably for the university population.
On the 10-minute walk across campus, it dawned on me that the last Mass Paul and I attended together was last Easter. The weekend after that I had several work events that kept me from attending; the weekend after that Paul died. I don’t know what to make of that, but it seems slightly symbolic in a weird way. (For those who don’t know, the Lenten season is a time to prepare for Easter; Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.)
As I sat there waiting for the services to begin I couldn’t help but cry. And for most of the Mass, tears were streaming down my face. The words the Priest spoke seemed to mean so much more to me today, especially as he spoke of the souls of the departed. He spoke of the Lenten season being a time to strengthen our faith and to develop a closer relationship with God, and I could feel myself choking up.
I suppose that with many other things, the first time without Paul is always more difficult. I may still find myself crying in the pews for some time to come, but at least I’ve found my way back to the pew in the first instance. And, like other things, it will get easier with time.
My favourite part of today’s Mass was the offering of peace. It brought a bit of joy to my heart because Paul always said that was his favourite part about Mass – he said it was the moment during the service when everyone seemed to genuinely care about each other.
I missed not having Paul sitting next to me today, but he was there in my heart where he always is.