My wife and I went last night and boy did we get love bombed! It was amazing - hugs from all of the elders, everyone coming up to me like I was a visiting bethel speaker or something. I was just laughing inside. I don't know if I was just paranoid, but it seemed like the speaker was looking right at me for much of the talk - especially the part where he invited the audience to go to meetings regularly and not just on special occasions such as this.
We had been getting calls all week from the brothers making sure we knew the time and place. Yesterday morning an elder and his wife came over to encourage me to come. It seems like they weren't counting on me being there because when I said, "Oh yeah, we're definitely going to be there tonight" they had this priceless look of surprise and relief on their faces.
I can't believe how I sat through 25 of those "celebrations" in the past. It is so ridiculous. The first words from one of the elder's mouth when he came to love-bomb, er, greet me afterward was, "It's great - we had 256 in attendance!". I wish that I didn't contribute to that number. Maybe next year there will be at least two less. It was so stupid how they over emphasize that no one is supposed to partake. The celebration is useless - why pass emblems that won't be used? It's such a stupid ritual - they're as bad as the Catholic Church.
Anyway, we went out afterward with some of our old friends. Everyone seemed so happy to see us. I know some truly miss us and we do miss them, but it's just not a healthy environment for us anymore. I told one of my elder buddies that we just came to keep from causing controversy this year. I told him that he would probably not see us at meetings anymore, and will probably only see us at assemblies since I have so many Witness workmates that I deal with on a daily basis. Someday we'll make a complete break, though.
It's so good to have friends on the outside who understand how much pressure is put on inactive ones to attend. Part of me doesn't mind going to the memorial - it's like a person going to Christmas Mass once a year to please his Catholic believing grandmother. But in a way it is much different because the JW religion is not a normal religion. It is a very controlling religion - pretty much a cult. For the Catholic grandma, she basically knows that her grandson is going just to make her happy. For the JW grandma, she believes that her grandson might someday come back to her religion. It stirs up false hopes and it starts the whole love-bomb process where you start getting invited to meetings and service, etc.
Maybe next year will be different.