The rain starts only a few minutes before Ralph arrives home to take me to the memorial service. In the temple the room is full and I can immediately experience the love, respect, and profound sense of loss that the attendees feel for the departed. Ralph and I put our fresh-baked cornbread at the food table and enter in to take seats towards the back of the room.
The service is long, thoughtful, and very lovely. There are many warmly-shared memories and many fond laughs. I am sitting to the left of my husband and to the right of the many colored-glass windows. The room is warm and only a little humid from the new rain. My clothes are very threadbare – I’m wearing the best I can come up with, yeah, but it’s not great. However as I sit I reflect on my friend and my self-consciousness gradually ebbs away. I experience my friend’s warmth, her kindness, her toughness, and her fully-lived life. I can hear the lush rain and the highway and a child talking in the back in a sing-song.
I think on my friend and her generous spirit. I know something of her life and what Could Have Been, handfuls of pills and a suicide attempt alone in an apartment, discovered by one of her children that way, the death she’d been hurtling to many many years before. And yet here is a room full of family and friends who loved her in decades of sober life since then, a joyous life and an electric one. She was a tough woman and she was a stage beauty and she brought joy and a lifeline to hundreds if not thousands. When I first met her she would point with a half-formed claw and beautician-nails and she’d shout advice at me – and that advice was always good.
Ralph later tells me there was a bird flitting up by the utmost purple pane of colored glass during the service.
Today was hard. Some of it was due to the phone calls and the meetings with those in dire, dire need. Some of it is just, for us, circumstances are pinched. It takes some degree of fortitude, patience, and faith to not become tired or overwhelmed by some of these circumstances. We have come to much debt and since we pay these bills on time it leaves precious little for food money or the type of expenses that come up. Today we had enough gas to get around and we currently have food in our fridge and we have grateful, amazing, beautiful, well-cared-for children. I continue to apply for appropriate work, hoping for employment if that is the right thing to do, and I continue to be grateful for the many gifts we receive. Our life is a day-to-day basis but it is experienced as a gift, something greater than I could have expected years ago.
Because, I also remember harder times. I remember what my husband and I have been through together. There isn’t much I can do about our circumstances but continue my practices of gratitude and, I hate to use the word, chores. Chores, and helping others in the modest way I can, are my lifeline when there are so many things I can’t do. I cannot provide financial security for my family, at this point of time. I cannot at this moment even see my way out of our fix. But – there is so much I can do! There are dishes to be done and laundry to be folded and clothes to be sewn or mended and there are children to be cared for and held close and there is correspondence to be made and other people’s birthdays, and events – and just caring for one another.
Participating in the caring for one another, and working my chores, have become useful meditations for me, and I hope I get many more years to keep practicing.