Today I attended an event for my cousin's passing. I'm not sure if the proper word is a wake, a burial or a memorial, but it was close family & friends sharing remembrances, tears and putting meaningful objects in a special box to be buried in a plot with her ashes. The sad joke I wanted to make was that, when I was quite young, I'd always relied on Kelley to remember not to mix-up the names of her sisters — Katie & Kasey. Something simpler came out, but it was enough.
My mother, bringing her mournful Irish genes out in full force, read a traditional Irish blessing:
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
Watching her immediate family speak was the most difficult. Her sisters were broken up, as I can only imagine. Her aunt & uncle both said something remarkably honest: "I'm still not sure I understand what happened." It had been some ten months since she passed away after a long bought with brain cancer (Seriously one of the crueler cancers. Man.) and I can only imagine what a whirlwind that must have been. She was 26.
It's been said many times and many ways, but there is nothing quite so tragic as watching parents bury their children. There are difficult things in life we all have to do and there are difficult things no one should have to do. This is clearly the latter.
She died while I was out of the country last year, specifically while I was in Greece. All my correspondence back home around the time was half-a-day delayed or so and it was a difficult thing to process. It was relayed to me that Greece had been a place she'd always wanted to visit, so I kept her in mind often as I wandered around Athens, even making a point to go back to places I'd been like some after-life tour-guide.
It was the kind of day that cleanses the emotional palate by giving you a little sample of everything. Tears, hugs, laughter, sadness, remembrance and silence.
May tomorrow be equally full, but a little less somber.