I knew this church like the back of my hand, it was my second home while I grew up. I loved it there so much that I often volunteered for extra responsibility, extra time coming in early and leaving late in decorating for the Harvest Festival, or the Elderly Valentine's day special. As a young woman I taught kindergarten, never missed my nursery duty dates and was a JV leader cheering on Wednesday night's games for my group of young almost teenager kids. All the while growing up side by side Dana and Derek, it was back in those days of chaos and struggle that Derek and I continued to attend the same church where all our friends were as our parents found a new church to attend. Since I was 18 years old I declared myself an adult to my parents in one of our many many arguments and disagreements. They simply had to let me drive myself to church with the occasional companion, my brother Derek who had just as many friends as I did back at the church we grew up in.
I was 22 years old when I realized that I could never be a hypocrite, it was such a struggle to please people and still honor God with my honesty. So I stopped attending church all together and I have been amazed by the freedom, by the better understanding I have of God now.....
.....and yet I was very comfortable returning to the very same church of my crazy Christian past....
I found myself lost in remembering the good times instantly, I walked through the doors of place that I had once been so safe in, so happy to hug and pray with my friends...the good times won out for I was lost in remembering my brother most importantly. I felt so close to him while I was there again.
Like a flash of light, as if someone turned on a light bulb of an old memory in the moment I step into that church in the very same spot of 25 years ago "Hey Deb, I'm in here." Derek points into the big classroom we shared through those years of Jr/Sr high school Sundays. I saw him carrying his bible case with a happy smile greeting his friends as I blink again, it was gone.....yet the door way into the dark room was real.
Everything was triggering flashbacks that felt so real because it had already happened.
So in my mind's eye I could see it as real as any moment in time! and it was truly comforting.
How powerful is such grief and loss, how strong is our memories? That in returning to the very same place once again will have them coming back to life strongly in my mind! I was in awe of this!
I stood smiling to myself all alone a few times as I saw him, as I heard him just like it was yesterday and not really 20 years ago.....
"Debby! Tell Mom I am outside playing volleyball with the guys." Derek pushed open the back hallway doors out into the bright sunny light of that very real looking Sunday afternoon memory as I walked by and I nodded at him with a smirk, as he disappeared carrying the volleyball in his arm and then I just stood there in awe of once was as the very same doors never moved.
"Hey, hey hey Where's Derek? Your sister is on the warpath over the soccer game outside, they need him to come out and calm her down to explain the rules again." I giggle and nod as I go find Derek, he's filling up his water bottle in the kitchen as I swing by explaining through the open counter space of the fellowship room to him on the go "They need ya outside right a way, Dana's freaking out on them about the real rules or something." He chuckled and nodded as I walked on to find my own set of friends.....
I spent some time by myself when I first arrived to our childhood church, because my mind was sparking out all these old forgotten moments in my life, simply by stepping back into very same square footage of this building we grew up in I was able to see it all so clearly once again. I needed to slow myself down to breath better, I needed to let the lights flash on and off as they did as I walked down the hallways of such rich history....
I called these moments "Ghost memories." For they were real in my mind's eye as the landscape had freeze framed it's self and I was overwhelmed by how clear, how sharp these moments were again!
I took a deep breath to begin the ceremony, to drink in all the love everyone had for my beloved brother Derek. To let the sadness flood my chest and have me melting into the memories.
How could someone so happy and clever be gone so fast from all of these magical earth's stories?
I cherished it all that day of my brother's funeral, I felt like a ghost chaser for a bit, Only I was chasing my own real memories that lit up as if someone had turned on the lights, then instantly fading as real time met face to face with my many many tears.
I took a deep long breath as I left the restroom in the back of the church, I was about to round the corner of the long stretch out hallway to greet the exiting crowd from the end of Derek's celebration of life service.
Only to pause a moment as I heard someone running up behind me, I glanced over my shoulder as 16 year old Derek tapped my shoulder smiling big at my complete surprise!
He laughed out loud saying "HA! Tag your it!" just like back in those lazy carefree Sunday afternoons when we had the whole place to ourselves between church services for many fun run around games like that, he ran by me with that clever grin then faded into hallway wall....
I fell back into the other side of the same hallway in my own real time and in my own tears, for I was simply ghostly aware.