August 14, 2000
Depart in Peace
My aunt died early this morning. Her death was not unexpected, but it's still hard. She was the last of the generation above mine.
And her daughters are learning for themselves the truth of a statement I didn't fully understand till my mother's death: no woman is ever old enough when her mother dies.
It doesn't matter that you've been on your own for a long time, your mother was always in the picture somewhere. I'm writing from the perspective of someone who had a good relationship with her mother; I'm sure there are those whose experiences with mothers have not been as pleasant, and for whom the moving up a notch in generations doesn't carry the same set of feelings. But for those of us who have been close to our mothers, the mother's death brings a special emptiness.
What gets me through those especially empty moments is reminding myself that I did indeed learn the lessons I was taught. I hope that remembering their mother's lessons will help my cousins.
For my cousins and for myself I will go home, and participate in a ritual that has brought us together more times than we'd care to remember: the laying to rest of a much-loved member of our family. There will be hugs and tears and smiles. Lots of memories will be shared. Shock, that blessed friend of the newly-grieving, will help us to get through the social parts, where you thank people you can't quite remember for coming to the service, and explain your place in the family to those who can't quite remember which child you are.
And we'll hate for the social parts to come to a close, because it will mean a chapter in our collective book is finished, and we have to go on to the next page.
This entry began with the first line of Simeon's Prayer from the Book of Luke, which is often used in Lutheran funerals, and which holds special meaning for me.
Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated.