So today, I watched brothers and sons gather around a casket. A sister, wife, and mother had passed.
I can’t say that I knew her well, or that we were close family, though we were in-law relations, and we became good Facebook friends, but the sight of her brothers bearing her casket across the green put me in mind of that childhood matrix we all share, the one where we wake up to consciousness–aware of the other pudgy innocents all around us, our brothers and sisters, our family.
There can be something boundlessly tedious, and restricted, about that passage through childhood. It’s easy to imagine a plate of half eaten macaroni and a noodle drying on your sister’s forehead and a decade of orders barked from mom and dad. I can remember apple-juice thirst and the peevishness of being left to bake in too sunny a window. But when you get to the end of it, when you see middle aged men, quietly forlorn and no longer able to hear their sister’s voice, bearing her final bed to the ground, you come to understand what a glorious, epic novel every life really is, what a glorious congregation your childhood siblings really were, how much God was there in all of it — the boredom and the glory. It might even explain why the dying don’t want to be left alone; the hands that once squabbled with each other want to be held — so dear was that company after all.
Goodbye, Teri. Until we meet again.