Ash Wednesday

Posted on Wednesday 22 February 2012

Today is Ash Wednesday. It is the first day of Lent. For Lent I have given up cookies. This is this is the first time I have given anything up for Lent. I was not raised in a religion that required giving up anything for Lent.

In fact, the religious make up of my family growing up was quite diverse. My mother was a lapsed Catholic. My sister, in her late teens became a practicing Roman Catholic, because she was engaged to someone Irish. She remained a practicing Catholic and eventually married an Italian, who is also Catholic.

My father was a Methodist, who was for a while a practicing Quaker. My grandmother, my father’s mother, was a Zen Buddhist that became a practicing Baptist. My twin brother was an Episcopalian. Growing up I had also been exposed to Judaism, Hinduism, and several other forms of Christianity. I never went to an Islamic service until I lived in Washington, DC.

I, for the most part, was a Methodist. I became a Methodist mainly because of Shelley’s family. The church they went to was a Methodist one, and her family was relatively devout. Given the time I spent with Shelley, especially during the last six months of her life, it really isn’t surprising that I became a practicing Methodist by default. In fact, the church Gee and I were married in was a Methodist Church.

One reason I am giving up cookies for Lent is because I am keeping my promise to Ellie, to convert to the Catholic faith. It is something I decided to do last summer, and it is part of my commitment to her, as well as something I chose to do for myself.

In some ways, Ash Wednesday is especially significant for me this year since the ashes themselves represent mourning, and I am in mourning for Ellie. I really do not know what has become of the amazing woman that I love, but she is no longer a part of my life at the moment.

Whether she has really succumbed to her addictions, or she remains buried beneath the horror of her what her addictions have turned her into—still fighting to once again be the amazing woman I love, I do not know. I guess only time will truly tell.

I pray for Ellie twice a day. Once when I get up, and once, just before I go to sleep. I do not know if God is listening, but I still pray and hope for the best. I have done everything I could to try and get Ellie the help I believe she needs—that I believe she was asking for in her own way—to no avail. I was the only person that cared enough about her to see what she was doing to herself last summer and fall, and to try and get her help.

Her family is in denial, mostly because her father and brother are both alcoholics in denial—but also partially because it is easier to deny that Ellie could be ill than it is to try and help her. Her friends, at least the ones she has been surrounding herself with since last June, seem to be a big part of the problem. I seriously doubt that when Ellie hits rock bottom, if she ever does hit rock bottom, that they will be there for her or try to help her. I do not think she has any one besides me willing to help her at the moment.

I do not know what God’s plan is for Ellie, but I am certain she is the woman that Gee asked me to seek out before her death 11 years ago. Even though I have chosen to walk away from Ellie, it does not mean that I have broken faith with her or that I do not take my commitments and vows to her seriously. I still love Ellie—I always have and always will. I still want to marry Ellie—to spend the rest of my life with her and raise the Asians with freckles that she said she adored. But, given how things have gone, I doubt that will ever come to pass.

Ellie seems to have lost herself in drugs and alcohol. I have not seen anything of the amazing woman that told me she loved me in months. That is one reason I chose to walk away. Another reason I chose to walk away is because I could no longer tell if what I was doing to try and help Ellie was actually helping her or enabling her.

The last thing I want to do is enable her illness in any way and prevent her from hitting rock bottom and realizing she has a serious drug/alcohol problem. The sooner she hits rock bottom, the more likely it is that any help she seeks will be effective. Alcoholism and drug addiction are both progressive diseases that change the way her brain works—the sooner she seeks help, the more likely she is to actually beat her addictions.

I am giving up cookies because I honor my commitment to Ellie. I want to honor our religious faith—the one she has believed in all her life and that I have recently adopted.

I am trusting in God to take care of the woman I love. I do not believe that God’s plan for her is for her to be a drug-addicted alcoholic, but she has free will and if she chooses to remain one, that is something that not even God can prevent.

May God watch over my beloved Ellie, bless her and protect her, even from herself. May God grant her the strength, courage, and will to fight her illness and return to being her true self. May God grant her the wisdom to see the truth—both about her illness and about us.

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