The Hovering Shadow of Grief

I planned for a quiet few days last weekend, but I thought an hour or two of pickle ball would be fun.  My Acupuncture appointment ran late on Saturday and I didn’t get to the park until 10am. Most people show up at 8:30 and stay a few hours.  As I got close to the park, I was happy to see a near full parking lot and all the courts were filled. 

I played a few games and then people started leaving. Eight of us were left. They were better players than me but it’s a public court and there’s a rotate in and out system so everyone gets a chance to play. They played two “charity games,” with me, but this group had plans of their own and then told me, without telling me, that their group was too elite for me. There were four on the court and four off. Two women were walking their dogs and another one, had just come off the court and was sitting next to me. Her hair was bleach blond, she wore bright pink shorts, with a glowing white and pink t-shirt. I asked her if she and the other two women would like to play. She wouldn’t make eye contact with me and blurted out: “I’m not playing now, I just got off the court.”

I felt the sting of rejection

I felt the sting of rejection, picked up my paddle and bag and headed to the mostly empty parking lot. They feigned cheerfulness as they yelled at me, “good-bye Kathy, good-bye Kathy,” etc.  

Ouch! Just like high school when nobody wanted you on their team. Or you were the last one chosen and they’d roll their eyes as you walked over. It was the same with skiing when I was in high school. My dad bought me and my brothers season passes and we were forced to go every weekend. The ride to the ski area was always tense. There was no question about where I’d be sitting. They sat in front, both sets of eyes glued to the road. No conversation to speak of, only insults, threats or demands they spewed my way, like venom from a rattlesnake. When we parked they took off like the roadrunner and I didn’t see them until the end of the day. 

I was not as dare-devilish as they were. One of my brothers got caught in a tree well.  They’re hidden pockets of air you can fall in, that can kill you because you’re suddenly engulfed in snow and it blocks your airwaves. I don’t remember if he popped right out of it or if someone helped him, but he lived to tell the story. I was never a tree well kind of girl, so in retrospect it was good I didn’t ski with them. But my friends didn’t ski, so I spent my weekend’s skiing alone praying I’d get to take the chairlift alone, and not be forced, with my painful shyness, to strike up a conversation with a stranger.  

And next arrived that hovering shadow of grief

After pickle ball, I got home feeling dejected. And then my parents, who are in heaven, popped into my head. It was a double-edged sword. First the rejection and then the the bricks of grief falling on top of me. I could’ve told them about my cruel rejection. They would offer encouraging words, make me laugh, and realize it wasn’t a big deal. But there’s that abyss of grief and nothing can bring them back. It was a melancholy afternoon, but the next day I’d be going to mass, so I looked forward to some new insight to make me feel whole again. 

During the homily the priest talked about the importance of marriage and family. At the end of mass, the priest asked all couples celebrating anniversaries to stand up and give the number of years they’d been married. “40” yelled someone in the back, more like it’d been a penance. Five, ten and 32 years. Another blow—the loss of divorce and no happily ever after for me. My emotionally abusive marriage was not a good model of a loving couple. My former husband did not practice his vows of kindness, respect, monogamy, and love.  He had no respect for me and violated the vows we made before God. But the divorce came at a great emotional cost for everyone. 

Church portal, bathed in beautiful rainbow colors reflected rom the sun
Church with rainbow colored reflections

The reflection that saved me

I trudged back to my car thinking: “How can a divorced woman contribute in a Catholic church?” In walked unworthiness and rejection. I got in my car and looked at the Church Bulletin. I love reading them. After a minute I found the following reflection: “Jesus broke down the false barriers that people set up among themselves and instead acknowledged the equal human dignity of every individual, despite what common opinion might say. 

He moved toward those who needed His help, rather than rejecting them because of who they were.” St. Mel’s Catholic Church Bulletin, May 1, 2022.  Even though it wasn’t the best of weekends, I was reminded of my human dignity in the world. God had my back.

So yes, I felt rejected, I miss my mom and dad and I didn’t get my happily ever after. LIfe has pain and joy, but the old adage rules, if you never experience sadness and loss, you won’t be able to experience the joy of healing.

See you next week! Kathy

Picture of Kathy the blogger
Kathy the Blogger

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