Today I heard the word "transgressions" today more times than I ever want to again.
My friend Kathy lost her fight with leukemia, and at 44 years old, we buried her today. For 18 months she lived in the hospital, never getting to return to her home, her garden, her husband or her son since the bone marrow transplant she had on November 9, 2009. Eighteen months. A roller coaster ride from hell of relapses, hopes, prayers, nightmares and anguish, with the grand finale of a painful, frightening death.
I sat in the church today listening to the Greek Orthodox mass that was offered up for her. I looked at the pink casket that housed the shell of the friend I have known for 22 years, whose wedding I stood up in, whose love of golf and hippos and gardening I shared, and I listened while the priest implored God to "forgive Kathy her transgressions", over and over. And I got angry.
Doesn't lying in a hospital bed with poison flowing through your body act as a sort of bitter karma? Does missing every moment of your son's ninth year count toward your God kudos? Because I think it does. And I am questioning the God that takes a mother from her child in such a cruel way. Any of Kathy's transgressions have been paid back tenfold, in my opinion.
In the end, the mass wrapped up in a neat little package, as masses always do. This is where I was forced to do the thing I hate the most: stand in front of the casket and say good bye. I avoided the casket the day before. That wasn't my friend Kathy in there. That was someone so tattered and torn, so unrecognizable to me that I couldn't bear to look at her. So today, when having no choice but to walk to the front of the church and stand before her, I chose instead to gaze at the stuffed hippo that accompanied her to the hospital on the day she didn't get to look back. The hippo that she threw on the floor over and over again while she raged with ICU psychosis. The hippo that she rested her head on when she wanted to smell home. The hippo that was placed in her casket to go with her on the last leg of the roller coaster ride. I thanked that hippo for staying with her for eternity, and for being there when I couldn't.
I looked around the church at friends I have known forever, people I have laughed with, drank with, danced with and loved. And I promised myself that the next time I saw them it wouldn't be at a funeral.
Kathy, I hope your new world allows you to shine like you did on Earth. You fought the good fight, and now you can rest, transgression free. I love you.