Posted by: chlost | April 9, 2012


Of course, I am a dutiful daughter, so I took my mom to church on Easter Sunday. Mom really wanted to go to church on Easter. Brother lives 1 hour away. He said he was going to be involved in the service. So my mother got up early and she and I made the drive to his church. We’d see my brother and get the Easter service out of the way.  Two birds with one stone, so to speak.

My brother was a pastor for a while. He is not any longer, but I know that he tries to help out when he can at the church he attends. He has been a member of the choir, has done ushering, etc.

Mom and I arrived early and sat in the nearly empty church so that she could get settled and we could stash her walker in an unobtrusive spot before the service started. We watched as the church filled to overcapacity. While waiting for the service to begin, I read the program. My brother was listed as singing….by himself. Hmmmm-he didn’t mention that part.

The service goes along; it’s a Lutheran church and my mom wanted to stand when needed, which means that I am hauling her to her feet each time by the seat of her pants. Literally.  She struggles to sit back down, because the pews don’t have arms and it is very low for her. But I am getting through all of it. I don’t attend church, and the service just reminded of why that is. If you have never attended a Lutheran service, I will just say that they stand and then sit. Repeatedly.

Then my brother is next on the program. I didn’t recognize the song. But as I sat there next to my mom, the tears started. Yes, they seemed to be my tears. My eyes began to fill with tears. In fact, as he sang, I began to cry openly. I was holding back sobs. My nose started to run, I could not see for the tears in my eyes. They were spilling over my cheeks and dripping into my lap. I had no tissues (why would I have expected to need those?) but dug through my purse in case I had one stuffed in there somewhere.

My mother was oblivious.

My brother never looked up from his music, so he didn’t see me.

Wow! What was that all about? It is totally out of character for me. I rarely cry in private, and only a few times have I cried in public.

From everything I have been able to reconstruct in my mind, it was all related to my sister. My sister was an amazing singer. She sang in temple, she sang in choirs, operas, and taught voice lessons. She may have died over 2 years ago, but I felt her presence with me with me while our “little”  brother was singing at a jam-packed Easter service.

My brother has done some singing here and there, some roles in musical theater, and in choirs. But never like this as far as I know. He has never had voice lessons. He is a very large man, and very self-conscious. He is not comfortable in himself, he has struggled with depression for many years. And yet, there he was-doing a fine job singing in front of all of these people.

Just thinking about it and telling others about my reaction brings the sting of tears to my eyes, even now. But yesterday, I was a mess. Luckily, I finally found a stub of a tissue in the pocket of my jacket.

I think the unexpected nature of it, combined with the thoughts of my sister, and my pride in my brother all coalesced into a swelling of emotion that just had to escape from me in some way.

Other than the trails of black mascara running down my cheeks, my red eyes and snuffling into a scrap of tissue, I am glad that I didn’t make a spectacle of myself!

And I won’t be attending church again any time soon.



  1. The Cooker refers to those as “Raccoon Eyes”. My best friend died back in the mid nineties and I was unable to attend the service. It was at that Lutheran church that they named a mountain after over in the middle east. His sister sent me a tape. I was a total mess listening to it. The pain may lessen in time, but you never forget.

    • Oh, yes, Raccoon Eyes they were! I would expect to have been emotional hearing a tape for a memorial service.
      This came up from nowhere. I am sorry you lost a best friend. It is very hard, I know.

  2. We Catholics (though, I’m a used-to-be) stand and sit alot… and kneel even, Catholic mass is sure to put you to sleep.

    I’m glad that you were able to see and hear your brother sing, and that it moved you so much.

    • Thanks, John. The Lutherans are a lot like the Catholics in many ways.

  3. That was very touching. Sounds, smells, such powerful triggers to memory…


    • You’re right, Pearl. My daughter-in-law has no sense of smell. I wonder how that affects her memory triggers.

  4. The frequent stand/kneel/sit thing was one of my favorite things about the Episcopal church. Of course, I wasn’t having to haul someone else along with me.

    Music is evocative and maybe you were needing that cry over your sister.

    • See, we all have different favorite things! The music is the only thing I can still appreciate about religion. It can do strange things.

  5. Yes, I bet your sister was a trigger. Hugs to you.

    • Thank you. She was there.

  6. Music has a way of sneaking past our defenses and hitting us in the heart when we least expect it. Perhaps it helped you release some emotion you’ve been holding back and to grieve for your sister.

    • Music does something to me, you are right. Thank you for visiting!

  7. I think this is a lovely story. I can see your somewhat self-conscious brother singing and giving that song to you: your Easter gift.

    • Yes, if you could have seen it, you might have had a few tears, too. Thanks!

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