My brother in law is a bit peeved at me, or at least I suspect he is. Today we planned the funeral, the obituary and the reception afterward. We had to move the funeral to 10, which means that the reception will be about 11 am, and I pointed out that means that you need to have sandwiches and not just fruit and squares at the reception.
My BIL thinks my rule of thumb about 5 pieces per person, per hour is crazy, and that his father wouldn’t have cared about it at all. He thinks my insistence that you write an obituary a particular way, and that you have funerals in a particular order is pretentious and silly, and who cares about such things, no one knows they even exist. He doesn’t think that my FIL would have even known what to feed people after a funeral, much less cared.
Grieving, whether the loss of your 83 year old father in law, or your tiny son, a good friend, anyone, is a bit of an abyss. You are walking along, things are fine, and suddenly you come to a chasm, and you have to cross to keep on your journey, but there’s only a rickety old rope bridge, and it’s falling apart, and you aren’t sure you want to cross.
At this point, what holds us together is a reception after a funeral, a nicely written memorial card, and yes the silly things like me bringing a blue wool suit jacket, grey flannel pants, a white collared shirt and a red tie to the funeral home. They won’t really fit my FIL, his old and frail body will swim in them, but that’s not the point. He deserves the dignity of a suit, even for cremation. It matters to me to know I did right by him. Oh, I know they will probably charge extra to dress him, but there you have it, dignity is never free.
And so yes, we have sandwiches, squares, cut vegetables, fruit, coffee, tea, and punch. And maybe Otto would have never cared that we did it. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. But it is what I can do for him, it is the next step on the journey, and it is a bit of a resting place for everyone else. It is an hour, carved out of the journey of life, spent standing, eating a brownie or an egg salad sandwhich, remembering, laughing and sharing.
It is what holds us together.