Opting Out

December 5, 2013

At the time of Sofia’s memorial service, I requested that donations in her memory be sent to two different groups:  Doctors without Borders and Lalmba.  Despite the fact that I am not a practicing Catholic and it’s theologically unnecessary, some friends and relatives felt the need to pay for masses to be said for Sofia.  If they find consolation in that, fine.  Don’t expect me to show up.  A mass in my daughter’s name is not going to get me to go to church.

But a colleague made a different donation.  You’ll note that both of the organizations I listed are in the field of medicine.  And this colleague made a donation to an organization similar to the two I requested.  It just happens to be local.  (I should add that my dad’s best man is related to the people who founded and run Lalmba.  They may be based out of Colorado and work in East Africa, but they feel almost like family.  My parents got a personal condolence letter from them.  They know my family, and not just from seeing our names on donations.  So to me, they’re kind of local, too.  But I digress.)  Her memorial donation went to the Borgess Tree of Love.  I have nothing against this charity.  They work to provide mammograms to poor, uninsured, and/or underinsured women.  My grandmother had breast cancer.  I think that what they do is great.  Not who I asked to receive donations, but it is in keeping with the two I selected.

However, one of the fundraising events is the tree-lighting ceremony.  And because this colleague made a donation in Sofia’s name, there is a light on the tree in her memory.  The ceremony is tonight.  And I’d initially planned to go.  After all, it’s what I’m supposed to do, right?  I’m supposed to show up for this because I’m her mother.

But you know what?  I don’t want to go.  It’s more fundraiser than memorial.  I’ll have to schmooze with people, which I hated doing even before I got pregnant for as long as I can remember.  There will be speeches to suffer through listen to.  So I’m not going.  It wasn’t something I asked to be a part of.  Yes, they do help people.  I support what they do.  And there may be people for whom this is therapeutic.  Seeing the lights in memory of their loved ones.  Being around people.  But I’m not one of those people.  Was there a large crowd of people at Sofia’s memorial service?  Yes, there was.  But that was different because I actually knew most of the people there.  I’m okay with a big group of people I know.  It’s groups full of people I don’t know that stress me out.

So I’m opting out.  The colleague who made the donation can go if she wishes to.  Me?  I’m staying home.  I’ll light my solstice and Advent candles.  I’ll have dinner with my parents.  My mom and I will go for a walk.  We’ll keep moving forward.  I think I’m doing okay.  I don’t need forced grieving to halt my progress.  I appreciate the gesture, but at least this year, I’m choosing not to participate.

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