Saturday, May 19, 2007

Wildfires, bagpipes, stamps

Have returned from my grandmother's funeral in Florida. Yes, we indeed drove through the smoky haze of wildfires. We only had to suffer through it for a few hours, I cannot imagine trying to live a normal day in that choking haze. It was better on our return.

I got the opportunity to see some of my favorite family, and meet some for the first time. That is one of the few pleasant things about death: the chance to reconnect with the living. Many of my family had never met my children, so I was also glad to introduce them to each other.

As per my grandmother's wishes, I helped lead the service. That was not my first choice of activities. This would be one of the many occasions when I would have preferred an occupation in library science, or data entry. The highlight of the service was Grandmom's cousin playing bagpipes at the graveside. He was amazing. I've heard plenty of rotten bagpiping, cousin John was superb. And the kilt still fits.

Now we are back and trying to pick up life again. There should be some kind of ceremony for that. It is not easy, as anyone who has tried to reassimilate knows. There are tons of things to do but all feel foreign. Grocery shopping yesterday was a debacle. House cleaning hasn't gone much better. But the mail has been a treat. Sympathy cards have certainly improved over the years, haven't they? Or maybe I haven't been reading anything but what friends and congregants have sweetly written. The pictures are nice too.

I came to work this morning to meet with a couple to be married next year. It was nice thinking about their hopes and excitement for a change of pace. The church is under mad preparation for a wedding reception this evening, which is also comforting to watch. Tomorrow the seventh day rolls round again, and maybe things will feel a little more balanced after that.

But here's the thing, as all grieving people know. It's still there. The laundry may get done, the work accomplished, the needs of the day met, but until it is time to stop grieving, it's still there. Funny little things will draw it out.

Today I opened a lovely card and it was full of stamps. A kind couple in the congregation thought I might need some of the new stamps, so they picked me up a few books. People have been asking our family what we need. I can never think of what it is that would help. And then books of stamps fall into my lap, and I start to cry. Stamps will help a lot. But knowing people who think to get us some, that's the most helpful thing of all.