Religious rituals throw me off guard. Do I adhere to them? Shall I disregard them? What would the Mama want?
Today marks 40 days since the Mama scampered out of her body. I like to think she gave a big sigh of relief and smiled grandly at the Daddy who took her hand and they danced into eternity.
The Mama did not have to sit around in some holding space just beyond reality for enough people to say the right amount of prayers to move her forward into heaven. It's not like how that guy who recited prayers at an auntie's rosary said, "Now we know that Sister's going to heaven, but we need to pray for her so that she can get a better seat next to Jesus." Really! I made sure he did not recite the rosary for the Mama.
When I was planning the Mama's funeral, one of her friends reminded me to get in touch with the church to request a nine-day novina for the Mama, which is nine straight days of praying for the Mama's soul after she has been buried. Yes, right. The Mama told me to do that, and I did.
Then someone asked me about the 40-day novina. After I stopped freaking out about that, I researched what it was all about. I'm still not sure if it's a church thing or a Filipino thing. Maybe it's both. The gist of the 40-day novina is an informal mass (as in friends and relatives) prayer for the decease's soul to ensure that she has found her way into heaven. I guess it's like that last extra shove into a door of a crowded subway.
Do I measure 40 days from the day the Mama died or when she was buried? Actually I don't care to know what the rules, or guidelines, are, if they're any. Just like I do with recipes, I have adapted the 40-day novina to soothe my soul.
This morning, I lit a tea candle at the Mama's and Daddy's grave site, while I arranged the last of the Mama's roses from her garden and some sand dollars that I gave the Mama years ago. And, I simply hung out for awhile.