First Person

My child died shortly after my mother died

In between, I was ordained a priest.

I stand in front of the altar, looking out at the congregation. The room is packed, and morning light streams in through the funky midcentury stained-glass windows. When I’m nervous, I tend to dance around a little instead of standing still. So I glance at my feet just before I begin preaching—I don’t want to misjudge the edge and fall down the steps.

We are celebrating the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, an occasion when, right on the heels of the humor and mischief of Halloween, we turn our hearts toward all those we love and see no longer. We remember people formally recognized as saints and also those whose wonder and grace will be largely forgotten.

It has been less than four years since my newborn son died and just over five since I lost my mother to suicide. Days like this one are still raw for me. They are particularly challenging days to preach on, but that is the path I’ve chosen: between these two deaths, I was ordained as an Episcopal priest. While our sacred stories always intertwine with our lives, in this case there is no question. I am living this story every day, especially with our youngest child, Sam, now two and a half years old.