Monday, August 27, 2012

View from the Balcony

I stared down at my feet, wondering who would get their toenails painted such a bright, obnoxiously cheerful color the day before they were attending a funeral.  I stared at my husband's shoes, remembering him polishing them the day before, cussing a blue streak at first when he had the wrong color of polish. I looked up, staring at the seam in the ceiling where the dome meets, wondering if one strong gust of wind would blow it down.  I stared everywhere but in front of me.

I stared around the packed church from my vantage point in the balcony, noticing the small pockets of non-Catholics who also didn't quite know when to kneel or stand or sit or shake hands. I stared at the top of the priest's head, where a huge red mark marred his bald head, a sign of the skin cancer he's being treated for.  I stared at the horrifyingly graphic representations of a man being crucified, shuddering at the blood and gore.  I stared everywhere but at the family grieving in front of me.

I barely knew this lady, but I had met her three or four times and each time she welcomed me into her house, let me play with her dogs, and plied food upon me.  I barely knew her, but I know her son well and when I looked down and saw him sitting in a pew all alone, a tissue pressed against his eyes, I wanted to scream.  He was not left all alone on purpose, I do not think.  His brother and his nephew had been sitting there moments before and I think had left very briefly for some errand or another of the church kind. But alone he was. 

I remember little about most funerals I've been to.  "I've Been Thinking about You" by Trisha Year playing as we walked into the church where I watched a high school friend's casket get topped with flowers and pictures and teddy bears, the black socks with green frogs I was wearing at my Aunt Jackie's viewing when my second cousin spit up on the husband of the deceased, causing all of us to crack up, momentarily forgetting where we were, and the black pants I was wearing at my own father's wake, pants that had faded to more of a grey and that I kept thinking weren't worthy enough of the occasion.  I remember moments.  Moments when I was able to forget why I was there.

My mother-in-law and father-in-law sat next to us, both thinking the same things my husband and I were.  What if it's our family next?  Cancer is a bitch and it's insidious and every three months my mother-in-law goes for a scan and we all hold our collective breath, hoping for just another three month reprieve, another family dinner, another meltdown over who gets to sit by grandma, another day, another moment, another memory.

I don't understand religion. I don't understand the comfort others take in it.  But as we pulled out of the parking lot of that church, my mother-in-law looked back at me and said, "God will take care of her."  I said nothing in reply, but I hope that she believes it and that it helps her sleep at night. 

1 comment:

  1. I guess we all have to find whatever it is that helps us cope and keep going. But man, that cancer sure makes it tough. It's vicious and nasty.


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