Sunday, June 24, 2007


I've decided that funerals are good.

but in coming to that conclusion, I have to strongly emphasize that it is a plus and minus affair. There can be gigantic sadness, with tears and sorrow and regret and pain, and loads of awkward moments. But there's also healing and endings, hope for the future, and lots of calm, moving moments of depth - where every triviality is forgotten.

my grandmother died a month ago, and we just had her funeral. I'm not sure if the delay was good or bad. it meant more of the family could come, but it isolated a few people and put a semi-damper on my cousin's wedding (the same weekend).

the funeral wasn't a real sad, sad occasion. There was lots of laughing and memories passed around, and the assembling of family always takes on a familiar, comfortable atmosphere. And grammy's passing was expected - she had been mentally distant for some time. When it actually happened - the initial reaction was a solid hit to the belly, but soon replaced by the logic of the timing, how old she was, and then thinking through the steps to prepare for the funeral, etc.

So, while it wasn't a real weepy occasion, I'm still moved by the tears of my family; my oldest brother reflecting and stumbling over memories; a lawyer aunt that maintains articulate sentences with red-stained eyes; a NYC psychiatrist uncle that ends his memories with a muted denouement - "...I will miss her..."; and my father whose tears move me deeply.

I became the most tender after playing the piano. I didn't realize how much my grammy enjoyed and probably encouraged my musical development. She was a singer and a pianist, and would work her way through the hymnal on free afternoons. And so I was originally playing to just honor her - but when I made the connection between her music and my music - well, that was the toughest.

funerals bring all sorts of relationship into focus. mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, cousin, friend, etc, and how much you value that human connection.

and so they are good.


Zaak said...

It's so true how we often don't take into honest account all the feelings we have for a person until we have to verbally (or in your case musically) express them to other people who will know that you are lying if you don't tell the truth.

I think the same goes for weddings.

April said...

Hmm, I appreciate times when it is socially acceptable to cry... "A time for every season". But really they are a bit bizarre, staged for someone who will never know