Friday, August 8, 2008

The Order of Things

I'll work backward here:

Sunday I'm going to a girls' lunch and salon-funtimes party for my friend Heide, who is expecting her second child next month. It will be the perfect and ideal way to round out a week of life that included, well, the full spectrum of life.

Tonight I have a wedding. It's my father's wedding. Well, my adoptive father's wedding. I hope they're hpapy together.

And that's all I have to say about that.

The earlier part of this week, I attended a wake and a funeral. John, a close family friend (and my accountant) suddenly dropped dead last Friday night. Just like that, and it was over. I grew up with his kids, spending our summers together at the beach club, and attending each other's fall dances and proms. It was a heartbreak to see them grieving for John, who was in every way a wonderful guy. And it was also reaffirming of so many things: life, love, faith.

John and Mary had four children and ten grandchildren in their marriage of 42 years. John has two brothers, both of whom are priests. Msgr. Gerry, who married my ex and me, said the funeral. But he wasn't alone. There were at least 30 other priests in attendance. And the Archbishop even concelebrated the mass and had some wonderful things to say.

The theme throughout the funeral, which was beautiful, was "do not be afraid". It is a phrase that is repeated throughout the bible and is a basic tenet of most organized religions and untethered faith. Do not be afraid. There is nothing to fear. Rest in comfort that everything is as it should be and will be what it will be. Trust. Trust. Trust in this thing called life and whatever it throws at you. Catch it, throw it back, play the game.

I went to the wake and funeral with my grandmother, who was given a grim prognosis for her liver cancer last August and who surprised everyone by looking so damn healthy and happy at a funeral no one expected to be attending any time soon. After the wake, for which we waited in line an hour or more, Grandma and I grabbed a bite to eat at The Playwright in Hamden. We two small Irish women grabbed a table, and the waitress asked what we would like to drink.

"I'll have a Harp," I said. (Duh.)

"You know, I think I'll have one, too," said Grandma.

It was too damn cute. Grandma, whose LIVER CANCER had shrunk more than 80% in the past year, decided to have a beer. If anyone has a right to, it's her I think. We were served, and together we toasted John and proceeded to talk about all the big and little things in life, from John's amazing family to babies on the way, and our huge mess of Irish cousins, some of whom have recently written me to say they're moving. To Australia. We nibbled on brown bread, ate our dinner, and Grandma tossed back an entire pint. It was such a simple thing, the two of us having dinner after John's wake. And it was the most perfect memory.

So tonight, Ian, the boys and I will gussy up for my dad's wedding. By next week we'll know whether or not we're moving at the end of the month. And in the meantime, I'll keep enjoying the 80s at 8 on 105.9. It's become a ritual for the kids and I to listen to it on our way to drop them off at camp each morning. One thing is true: I have found a newfound love of Journey as I drive up Rt. 80 in the morning.

In Kundalini yoga, we end each class with a saying until we meet again:

"May the longtime sun
shine upon you
all love surround you
and the pure light within you
guide your way on."

John will be very missed. But it was really nice to see so many people this week, at the funeral and the wake, that I've known since I was younger than my children. That connection to others is the whole point of everything.

Happy Friday.


Liam said...

That sounds like the old Irish blessing...

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the rain fall softly upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand

My uncle from Ireland recently passed... The first pint I raise each night I say a silent toast to him.

Milk Money said...

It has always reminded me of that, good Irish girl that I am. Sorry 'bout your uncle. Which county are "your people" from? We're mostly from Meath. Well, my family is. I'm an Irish-Italian McGuinea from New Haven.