Another week has gone by...full of ups and downs. Who knew that "sheltering in place" or "staying at home" or whatever you want to call it...could still be like riding a roller coaster?
I'm not 'there' yet in terms of sharing "just" the work of my hands. Instead...I am sharing what it's like to grieve for the death of a long-time friend who died not due to but in the midst of COVID-19.
I managed to get to the visitation for my friend C. on April 18. It was an odd experience because of the COVID-19 protocols in place. The space was huge! When I entered -- after over 2 hours on the road -- a lovely fellow (funeral home employee) greeted me and showed me the powder room.
From there I went into an ante-room and met up with A., C's eldest (a year younger than my daughter). Inching towards 40 ( both he and my daughter will just love that I mentioned that but hey -- his mom and I were/are approaching 68 so...??), he's as tall as I remembered, but with a bit more 'rounding' and less hair. Still, A is a lovely young man -- very gentle, and interesting as well as interested -- and of the 3 of the children, the one who most resembles his dad. We had a very good talk, and from there I went into the 'viewing room' -- another very large space with chairs placed strategically 2 metres (6 feet or so) apart. No one was sitting in the chairs. On the side of the room opposite the door was the casket of my friend, and nearby, a table with photos, most of which I remembered and had seen before.
When I entered, I caught W's eye; he'd been talking with a couple -- masked -- who'd come to pay their respects. I waited. They took their leave and I drew nearer -- but not too near. We talked a bit, and we went toward the photo table, and then I took a look at my friend C...not who I remembered, at all, really...because who she is for me is far more real. And then...W and I chatted some more.
Another couple arrived -- and so did G, the 'kid in the middle' for C and W. She is the same age as my son, and they graduated together...and were in music/choir combos together but not friends per se. G is tall and slender, though, like my daughter, and wore for a bit of time a red vest I'd knitted for my daughter that was eventually passed on to her.
G is to be married at the end of August. It was to be earlier -- May, I think -- but COVID-19 has put paid to that plan. Her mother -- yes -- had told me so in an e-mail just a week or so before she died. G is a lovely young woman: a musician, piano teacher, life guard -- and is currently staying with her dad and teaching over Face Time -- sensing very strongly her mother's presence, which is good, but...she is nonetheless very tightly wound, and so I keep her in my prayers.
I moved out into the foyer to sign the guest book and pick up a small pamphlet of remembrance. Returning to the viewing room, I prepared to take my leave. I approached W., who bid good-bye to another couple who'd been talking to him, and came to me, arms outstretched. I hugged him and held him close, whispering, "Oh, to HELL with convention!!" Both of us needed the solace of that hug at that moment. I have no regrets.
As I left again to leave, I encountered Gr., the youngest of the family, and his girlfriend. Another musician and a sort of 'Renaissance' young man, I'm not quite sure what he is doing now. His dark hair and full, dark beard meant that I didn't recognize him right off -- because the last time I saw him he was more blonde and clean-shaven. We had another lovely chat...and I got from him the address of his grandmother, C's mother, so I can write her when God gives me the right words to say.
I know this isn't my usual post, but this is what has been most real for me this past week. I beg your indulgence and your patience -- and if you are praying sorts, your prayers.
Thanks -- with love.
Take the time, Margaret and be blessed
Grieving in isolation is difficult. We are meant to gather and remember. The rituals exist for a reason.
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