No wait. First: I've been spending a lot of time in church lately. Not on like, Sunday or anything. But I've logged hours and hours this summer.
Last weekend I hiked up to St. John the Divine in Manhattan. It's beautiful, and there are lots of little side chapels where you can hide and cry if you want.
You don't cry in church? I do. You should. Churches are so full of despair and sadness and lost souls and desperation and loneliness and helplessness and terrible heavy-hearted remnants of people who weren't sure where else to go. And they are also full of hope. That's why I cry. Plus no one thinks you are crazy. They think you are wonderfully spiritual and in possession of a direct line with God. They bow an apology while they leave you to be. It's quite refreshing.
There was an art display at St. John's. A giant dinner table in a dark room set with plain white dishes and an overhead projector that threw images of suppers from around the world being eaten and the taped conversations were broadcast in tandem with the meal. The plates in the video lined up with the plates on the table. The food was actually on the plates. You could see hands and arms of the people eating, and bowls were passed around. Indian meals, Italian meals, Spanish, Russian, French and even a Thanksgiving dinner.
It was beautiful
It was a celebration of the art of sitting down and eating together.
It is an art. A dying art.
I sat down and watched the food be passed, listened to the conversation and cried.
Because I have hope.
I signed http://www.wednesdayspaghetti.blogspot.com/ to the guestbook, and added the tagline "it's more than just spaghetti". I've slacked on my Wednesday Spaghettis, and it hurts. Some Mother of an Institution I turned out to be.
I have a funeral dress.
No wait. First: I have a group of girlfriends who are amazing. We are spread out all over the globe these days, but we stay in touch. There are only a couple of us who still live in the city, and I'm guessing that five years from now I'll be the only one. But we all manage to come together once in awhile, no matter how far the world spreads us. We are up, we are down, we are left, we are right, we are fatgirls.
One of us lost her father last week.
There is no good time to lose your father, but I have never in my life seen a worse time for anyone to lose their father.
Has your heart ever truly broken for someone else? For a family?
Mine has, and it will be awhile before I know how to put it together.
We came together to mourn, we fatgirls. We weren't all in the same room- or city or state or country- but we were together.
We are bigger than time and space. Fatter than time and space.
On a hot August day, years ago we did this before. We lost a friend and learned how to mourn together. It's a valuable lesson. You can't mourn effectively with just anyone.
Thankfully we have also learned how to rejoice together. Graduations, engagements, promotions, children, marriages, homeownership, relocation, each other. The good moments help us get through the bad. We are good together, after all these years. You can't be good together after all these years with just anyone.
My friend's father was incredible.
I have a picture of Dave looking at him while he spoke at his daughter's wedding. It's my favorite picture of Dave. He hates it. I have it hidden. I don't want to lose it.
Right after that picture was taken, Dave said, "he makes me want to be a dad".
Her father was the kind of dad that you wanted for yourself, for your children. He was the kind of grandfather you want for your children, for yourself.
Her father was the kind of dad that makes a girl want to have one thousand babies.
I'm usually okay at funerals, especially if it's a Catholic Mass. It's never very personal, it's never anything I understand.
Sit down, stand up, say this, smell that, sing this, swallow that.
Done out over.
Not this time. It was the most beautiful, heartfelt service I've ever been too. That's the kind of guy he was, one to break long standing tradition for.
I'm usually okay at burial sites. I'm usually spent and hungry and ready to smile. Ready for the first joke to crack and the first beer to crack. The first crack at trying to get on with life.
Not this time. Full Military Honors break me. I cracked.
Life during wartime.
The young soldiers folding the flag, firing the guns.
I'm not good with gunshots, even ceremonial gunshots.
I put my son's face on every soldier. It's one of the ways that motherhood changed me that I was unprepared for. My son was the soldiers, was the pall bearers, was the sons who no longer have a father. He was the priest, he was the brothers of the man in the casket. He was the man in the casket. My child is everyone, everyone is my child.
There were babies in attendance. Proof that life goes on.
I like babies at a funeral. Especially if they make a lot of noise.
And there were birds circling the gravesite. Proof that life goes on.
I like birds at a funeral. Especially if they make a lot of noise.
So many of my friends' fathers are passing. Three this month alone. I can't stomach counting on my fingers how many have been lost this year. These past few years.
We are at that age, I guess. Everyone is getting divorced and everyone is losing their fathers. Those of us that aren't seem the lucky few.
I take it as a sign to change a few things in my life. To make things better.
I have a funeral dress. I thought it would be prudent to buy something appropriate for all these funerals I keep getting invited to and there is nothing worse than having to decide what to wear to a funeral. It's black, with white polka dots. Short sleeved, button down, full skirted, past the knee, sash waisted, and collared. A size too big. Sometimes two. Bought large so the spaces between the buttons don't gap and show my tits or my belly. Sensible and neat, stylish but not a bit sexy. It goes well with my black high heeled, round toed, silver buckled, all seasons Mary Jane shoes. Everyone likes it. Getting complimented at a funeral is strange, but something I'm used to these days. These days since I bought the funeral dress. It won't go out of style. I'll wear it until it falls apart. It always fits- thanks to that sashed waist- it always will. Old reliable.
It hangs next to my party dresses. I wonder if I should separate it, hang it in the hall.