Feast Days: On celebrating the sad things

Feast Days

So have any of all you Orthodox out there ever looked sideways at your calendar? Squished up your forehead when we celebrate things like the beheading of St. John the Baptist?

I have, man. I have.

This convert sometimes takes those feasts and goes, um…okay. I only kind of got it until this month.

I’ve been waiting for October for a long time, it seems. Not really looking forward to it. Not dreading it either, at least not in a simple sense–it’s a complicated emotion I’m not sure how to describe. This year, October marks a number of anniversaries that are either distinctly unhappy or just flat out hard to define.

The first: October 7th (this Wednesday) marks the five-year anniversary of William’s diagnosis.

The next: October 16th marks one year since the start of my first miscarriage, which was a pregnancy I didn’t discover until it was too late.

The last, and the freshest wound: October 26th is the date we were expecting our little Mary. She died at 6 weeks gestation, but I carried to 10 weeks, when, after two failed attempts to expel the pregnancy by medication, we finally had to resort to surgery. That was the day before my birthday.

Today I was thinking of all these hard moments, and while I don’t really have any desire to throw party-hat events on those days, I suddenly understand the celebration of feast days for martyrs and those saints who died peacefully.

We remember. We consider their acts, their struggles, their sufferings, and their transformations that show us the way.

It’s more complicated than a celebration. Sure, we’re thankful for their faithfulness and their stories, and for their entrance into heaven, and we celebrate that, but there’s pain in it too, and we remember.

So I remember William’s diagnosis. I remember the pain of that moment, but I celebrate his courage and work ethic and his tremendous progress. Both bring tears to my eyes, of opposite kinds.

I remember Nicholas, who I met through his death. The pain I feel over him is flustering and confusing, and I sometimes wish I just felt it or I didn’t. I thank God for his life, though short, and I hope he will pray his mama through the rest of this life.

I remember Mary. This time around, I just feel her absence and it takes my breath away. But I hope that Octobers to come will bring a more nuanced, complicated welcoming of the 26th–the way I’ve come to feel about the 7th.

Through the prayers of the saints, O Lord, have mercy on us and save us.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Lisa A says:

    Thank you for sharing your words. Your blog has been a blessing to me.

    May the memory of your two precious babies be eternal.


    1. mauraoprisko says:

      Thank you so much, Lisa! God bless! ❤


  2. Michelle says:

    Memory eternal to your little ones. In a way, it is fortunate that you have Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month during the same time period that you lost your little ones. You can truly know that you are not alone. ❤ May God comfort you during these difficult days.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jenny says:

    May their memories be eternal!


  4. Elissa Bjeletich says:

    Memory eternal! When I first came into the church and saw the memorial services at 5, 10, 20 year anniversaries of a person’s passing, I wondered if it wasn’t a little morose and unhealthy. When our son died, I came to understand what a blessing it is that our Holy Church doesn’t ask us to squelch sad memories and to feign a too-happy cheeriness. Life is hard, and sad things happen, and we remember — and in doing so, we remain connected. It’s a very healthy way of integrating our experiences (as opposed to denying or repressing them.) I’m so grateful for that connection now, and for the feasts that mark the more solemn dates. Christ has trampled down death by death, so we don’t need to shove these dates out of our minds. In the fullness of time, it will all be healed and our connections will be even stronger. Thanks for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. hannah e vazquez says:

    I’m here remembering with you Maura!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ann Taylor says:

    (((Hugs))) I have a similar story of miscarriages, though offset by eight years. http://morequestionsthana.blogspot.com/2007/03/broken-clay-pot.html You will never forget or see those dates the same way on the calendar, but it does fade. And the story of Hope, which came afterwards: http://morequestionsthana.blogspot.com/2009/08/having-hope.html


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