Sundays are the worst.
I never used to think that. I loved Sundays. I got to go to church where I was with some of my favorite people on the planet. After, I’d come home, take a nap, hang with the family, take the big kids to youth group, return home and hang with the fam some more.
Vance rarely worked a Sunday. We usually drove two cars to church because I often had to stick around and he liked to go straight home. Once there, I took attendance while he sat in the back. When I was done, I’d walk over and sit with him. We’d listen to the sermon together. We would almost always hold hands and sometimes I’d lean my head on his shoulder. Even on the worst weeks, when we’d been fighting, church was a place for us to reconnect; to forgive; to bond. After the service, we would run our separate ways but he’d always find me before he left and we would figure out how all the kids were getting home. He’d tell me, “I’ve got the bigs,” or “You’ve got the A’s, I’ve got the E’s.” Then an “I love you. See you at home.”
But the last several times I’ve gone to church I’ve avoided walking in the main doors to the sanctuary. Because right inside those doors was where you would find Vance on Sunday mornings. I just can’t. Every single time I’m in the sanctuary I find my eyes wandering to that spot, hoping to see him there. But, obviously, that’s not happening. He’s not there. He will never be there. And so I avoid walking past those chairs. I come a little late on purpose, enter through the back doors and sit on the opposite side.
During closing worship I find myself reaching for his hand. I grasp only air.
The tears always come. And then on days we sing “Another in the Fire” or “Raise a Hallelujah,” well, on those days, you can just plan on replacing all of the Kleenex in the entire church, because I’m going to be using them.
I took for granted that he was here on Sunday afternoons. That we could talk or watch movies or even just sit in the same room and stare at our phones. I miss watching him play catch in the yard or wrestling with the boys in the living room or teasing Abby about her French ballet terms. I miss laying in bed and sharing our days and talking about what was supposed to happen over the next week. I just miss Vance being here.
Last week when I came home from youth group with the kids, I had to stop and brace myself before walking in the door. I was coming home to an empty house and it wasn’t supposed to be that way. Vance and Asa were supposed to be at home, probably watching TV. But Asa was with me and Vance is with Jesus. The house was dark and empty and it took an extra minute to prepare myself to go in. A deep breath and a lot of resolve.
Sundays are the worst.