Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,
Sarah Avery
dr_pretentious

Our Shelter From The Stormy Blast And Our Eternal Home


Well, things are going better than anyone could have hoped, mostly because People Are Basically Good. In addition to the Casseroles of Human Kindness pouring into my grandmother's house, the flowers, the cards, the choir my grandmother belonged to coming to the funeral to perform on two days' notice...it looks like we may be able to line up a family friend to move in with my grandmother for a while, to buy us all some time while we figure out her living arrangements. She's not quite well enough to live alone, but she's been in this house for about 40 years, so nobody wants her to have to move anywhere else.

There have been odd moments of stress. My father was, briefly, a cautionary tale about what you can do to your temperament if you go 48 hours on only one hour of sleep. My grandmother was alarmed to discover that very few of us can reliably sight-read music, and that got to be a big deal for a little while. My sister went out drinking with our cousins and, when a stranger said something unrepeatably lewd to her, she slapped the guy across the face before she knew she'd done it. (Of course, everyone who heard the conversation is in agreement that she should have hit him harder, because, damn, there are things you just don't say to a woman you don't know.) We're finally catching up on the collective sleep debt, so there's reason to hope the really weird stuff will clear up.

Kate, my niece, has been delightful company for all of us. In case you ever have occasion to wonder whether to bring an infant to a funeral, the answer is yes.

The funeral itself was difficult. We're good at Love That Scrubs The Kitchen Floor, and not too bad at Love That Phones The Funeral Director. As long as we had lots of jobs to do, we were stressed out, but mostly okay. Love That Slows Down To Say Goodbye is really, really hard.

For the second time in a year, I was asked to take a speaking part in an Episcopalian rite of passage. There are lots of speaking parts to go around, most of them Bible readings. My uncle tried to make sure everyone had something to do during the funeral. Averys like having things to do. The relatives weren't sure if I'd be willing to get up and say lines we all know I don't believe, but they didn't want me to be left out of the ritual, either. I ended up doing the call part of the call-and-response Prayer for the People in the Book of Common Prayer's funeral section. The basic sentiment goes like this:

Leader:
Hey, God, we're terribly unhappy because our person died.

Congregation:
Amen

Leader:
We can't do anything to help him anymore, so we hope you're on the case.

Congregation:
Amen

Leader:
You usually do good work, so we're optimistic, all things considered.

Congregation:
Amen

Leader:
Since we have you on the line, we just thought we'd mention that bereavement is awful, and we could really use a hand down here.

Congregation:
Amen

Of course, there's lots of cosmological detail for me to disagree with, and lots of high formal diction to trip on, but the sentiment is one I can get behind, so I did.

Tomorrow, my generation is taking off for the woods together. We'll go to the tiny town where our grandfather grew up, to visit the river that was his river and the lake that was his lake. We'll sit around the fire and drink toasts, and then, in the morning, go back to our lives.
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