As I walked through the doors of our church with my aunt and my grandmother, entering the vestibule, I had a heavy heart. It was Christmas Eve of 1994, and the first time in 4 years since my brothers passing back in November 1988 I had attended Christmas mass. The three of us lit candles, did our cross before each of the icons there, and kissed them. We then proceeded into the sanctuary for the service.
I stood at attention in my pew, fighting back my tears, because my thoughts were not only on my brother who passed away 6 years earlier, but it was on the passing of a dear friend of whom I attended middle school and high school together with her.
My mind drifted back to the day of her funeral when her body was lowered into the ground.
At the same time, I could hear our priest delivering the Christmas sermon.
I fidgeted a lot with my bracelet, and bit my lips, doing anything to distract me from the pain of my sorrow. Hard as I tried to fight back my tears, they had a mind of their own. One or two tears got away from me. I wiped them away carefully with my finger tips, so as not to ruin my makeup.
Then, the tone of the service changed. There was sadness in our priest’s voice, as he spoke about his daughter. “My daughter was 18 years old when she passed away years ago. My wife and I mourn her death every day. Holidays are always hard, but it’s the memories we’ll keep, in order to hang onto her. For she will always be in our hearts. She was our child, and we’ll never let her go, no matter where in heaven she is. These past few years, she’s been an angel of the Lord, watching over us. For I know the Lord is with her, watching over her like a father should his child. For he is the Heavenly Father of all life. Thank you all for attending Christmas service tonight. And to those families and individuals who find it hard to be here tonight, as a result of loved ones not being here, because they have passed on in life, just know the Lord is watching over them.”
Following the service, I didn’t get in line to accept any holy bread from our priest. For I went the opposite direction, passing through crowds of people who stood in line for the holy bread, excusing myself, trying to get away from everyone before my eyes betrayed me with my tears starting to fall from my eyes.
I ran into the vestibule, headed into the basement, and then ran into the bathroom as fast as my feet would carry me. Going into one of the stalls, I locked the door, and stood crouched over the toilet, crying so hard, I was shaking. My nose bled as it always did when I had nervous breakdowns. Soon, I was breathing hard, choking on my tears.
Wiping my eyes with tissues, I gather some more and wiped the blood that fell on top of the toilet seat from my nose, and also the blood that dripped from my nose unto the floor, and exited the stall, tossed the tissues into the waste basket, exited the bathroom, and ran upstairs into the vestibule, and then into the sanctuary to find my uncle.
Upon entering the sanctuary, this nice couple happened to be coming toward me. The man said, “Hello, Kiki. Is everything alright?”
“I’m fine. I just have allergies,” I replied, hoping my smeared mascara wouldn’t cause him or his wife any alarm.
He extended his hand for a handshake as did his wife. Accepting their hands for handshake, I said, “I can’t be here tonight. I shouldn’t be,” I said trying to fight back my tears.
First, the man responded by saying, “Merry Christmas, for what it’s worth.”
And his wife also said to me, “Merry Christmas.”
© Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2015