By Missy Morain
October is here and I am glad. I hate the month of September. It hasn’t always been this way. I use to love the arrival of September for the promise of cooler and less humid weather and the beginning that it always brings. For the fact that when I was five I got my greatest wish, a baby sister instead of another brother, and for the celebration of my baptismal anniversary. Last year though, I begin to dislike September.
In September of 2006 my sister lost a close friend to a car accident. It was one of those accidents that no one expects and two lives were lost, while so many other lives were changed forever. This September, I was sitting in an airport waiting to go to an Episcopal young adult gathering when my mother called. She told me that one of my other sister’s friends, Meggie, was killed in a car accident the night before. Meggie was beautiful, intelligent, and so very talented, one of the most talented soccer players to ever come out of the state of Iowa. In May she had graduated from the University of Missouri summa cum laude with a degree in industrial engineering. She was so full of promise and now she is gone.
I hadn’t seen Meggie in years. I admit that she could drive me nuts when she was little. She and my baby sister were always so goofy together when they were little and the level that they could raise their collective voices to could rival a rock concert. Yet, her death still hit me like a knife to the heart, although not until about 14 hours later during the opening worship service for the gathering, right as I was in the middle of the Nicene Creed. I realized that I couldn’t force the words of the Creed out of my mouth. Before I began to cry in public I ducked out to sit on the front steps of Grace Cathedral to have a chat with God. I was angry. I was so mad that my jaw hurt from clenching and my eyes burned with tears. I don’t understand why these amazing young people die. My grandfather died earlier this year but he was in his 90s. We could say, “He had a good life.” Meggie had a good life, but it was too short, and feels as though it is left unfinished. Not because of anything that she hadn’t specifically done but because I know there are so many things that she still could have done.
I knew that God was big enough to deal with my anger and I didn’t have any reason to hold back so I tried not to. I know that the first heart that broke when Meggie died was God’s heart. I know that Meggie is with God, and yet it doesn’t really change the way that I feel. I know that it is not supposed to yet, I am still thinking about the holes her death leave in this world, not entirely caring at this moment about the delight in her arrival at the next one.
My anger for the most part has dissipated. In some ways it has been replaced by fear. Fear and frustration. I am afraid of next September. I am afraid of more loss and I know that there will be more. I am frustrated by the ways in which my sisters, who I love so much, are hurting. There is this piece of me that wants to pull back from the world, to disconnect, in the hopes of not getting hurt. Yet, that is not who Jesus calls me to be. I have not been called as a Christian to pull back or to hide, but to step out and face this continual cycle of birth, death and resurrection. That does make me feel better, to know that there really isn’t an end. Of course this doesn’t mean that I am going to refrain from asking everyone I know to not drive in Iowa during the month of September. It is not going to work, but I am going to ask anyway, perhaps it will save God’s heart, and mine, a little extra pain.
Missy Morain, Program Manager for the Cathedral College’s Center for Christian Formation at Washington National Cathedral, is keeper of the blog Episcopal Princess. She is on the board of directors of the National Association for Episcopal Christian Education Directors and works with the Colloquium of Episcopal Professional and Vocational Associations.