A few weeks ago, the church where I spent a good chunk of the early years of my life was destroyed in a fire. I saw the news on Facebook and was surprised by how affected I was.
The images are shocking, but more than that, the memories of my childhood there came flooding back. I was baptized and brought up in that church for the first decade of my life. I went to Sunday school, sang and performed in Christmas pageants, and attended weddings, including my own sister’s, in which I was a junior bridesmaid. My first crush was a boy from my Sunday school class. The church ladies made homemade donuts for the fellowship. I can almost taste them now as I write this. My best elementary school friend went to the same church, so I got to see her six days a week.
Though I no longer subscribe to any religion, and my husband is a flat-out atheist, I was raised Christian, and continued to believe, even through college. This was hugely important to my mom. I was the last of her children to stop going to church, and when I eventually did, I know she was heartbroken. She had been involved in every church we attended (and we went nearly every week), usually through one of the music programs. She was always in charge of the Christmas or Easter cantata; she taught the songs in Vacation Bible School; and when it was time for the “special music” portion of the service, more often than not, it was my mom, my sister, or me up there singing.
Though she was eager for Hubby and I to have kids, I also know she wouldn’t be happy that we won’t be baptizing Thumper. Our daughter will not attend church, Sunday school, or VBS. In a way, it makes me a little sad that she won’t have this connection with her grandmother, whom she will never meet. But that’s not a reason to send her to church.
There are other ways for us to be connected to my mom, like singing, baking, or watching Wheel of Fortune. And I hope I will see something of my mother in my daughter’s eyes, laugh, or personality. Because–as comforting as my mom’s faith was to her, especially near the end of her life–I don’t believe I’ll see her on the other side.