– god and grief

God and Grief
by Susan Pogorzelski

God spoke to me today. I hadn’t heard from him in awhile, not since I disowned him twelve years ago, but today, through the voice of a precocious seven year old brat, he spoke to me.

And I think he told me to fuck off.

I’d been going to church since I was in diapers, Mom and Dad being those Holy Rollers that you dread. Mom keeps a pocket Bible in her purse and Dad sometimes pretends that he’s part of the clergy, the way he offered sermons to my sisters and I growing up.

I spent my Sundays in a tiny classroom in the back of the church, sitting on tacky orange and yellow plastic chairs only big enough for a preschooler as we all poured through the Bible, defiling sacred text by underlining verses and writing our “thoughts” in the margins. If I want to remember, I could probably still hear the scratching of the pens as the other kids in town wrote down whatever crap our teacher fed them. But I don’t.

I wonder what my teacher would say if she found my Bible now, cartoon drawings covering the canvas of the word of God.

Maybe that’s why God is giving me the old Fuck You now, through the voice of a seven year old child-demon, hurling obscenities at me through the slotted wood fence that separates our yards.

Today I turn thirty. And today is the day I bury my youngest sister.

Lucy was the only one of us to ever go to college. I had escaped to New York the minute I turned eighteen, trying to find some semblance of my old flickering self; like a light bulb on its last bit of mercury, I was about to fade out in this tiny hick of a town, smothered by Bible verse and God’s will. That day twelve years ago I hugged and kissed my Mom and Dad goodbye, offered false promises of visits to my younger sisters, and gave the church the middle finger as the Greyhound ambled past.

If God had smote me, I’d get why. I deserved it, after all. But I’ll never understand why he had to take Lucy. Or why, in that hospital room two days ago, despite my bargaining and pleas and all those Hail Mary’s, I couldn’t save her.

“Are you coming inside?”

I look up from the pinecone I’ve been twirling between my fingers, borrowed from the ancient tree in our front yard that the neighbors threaten to tear down every year ‘if those ugly things keep falling over their side of the fence.’ Mom is standing in her black dress and heels, a blue apron that Lucy had made in Home Ec. class around her waist. I wonder if Mom remembers that, or if tying it around her waist has just become habit.

“I need you to fill the bowls for the wake.”

As she says this, a hand flies up to her mouth and she breathes deeply, trying to stop whatever emotion is about to pour out.

I stand from the wooden swing that Dad had hung from one of the branches when we were kids, the seat rocking into the back of my legs.

“I’m coming,” I finally say, and because I don’t know what else to do, I awkwardly place an arm around her shoulders as we walk across the yard towards the house.

Perhaps today I’ll be of some use. Perhaps today I’ll finally start talking, and pray that God will listen.

 

 

 

Time Duration: 20 Minutes
Edits: 1
Prompts: a god speaks to you; borrowed from the ancient pine tree; I am of some use; fill white bowls; my flickering self

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