For myriad reasons I am not at my brother-in-law’s funeral. I don’t think I’ve ever been angrier at my body for being the way it is, angrier at air travel for affecting me the way it does or felt more helpless. I just want to envelop my nephews and niece in a giant, bosomy hug. When you’re sad it’s sometimes best to be hugged by a large woman. You feel hugged not only by a person but also by the essence of Comfort. I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of those hugs…there are a lot of large women in my world. There’s a reason the scriptures are constantly talking about the comfort of God’s Bosom.
Instead I am keeping my home for my husband to come back to, practicing Shlom Bayis as we always do. It’s the only way I have to comfort those who need comforting.
Yesterday I made soup. I’m not sure why my genetic memory has me finding peace standing over a crock of cooking liquid, but it does. When I stand over my broths and gravies and chowders and bisques I always feel like a thousand women stirring a thousand pots over stoves and hearths and cookfires. I feel like I’m cooking food and brewing remedies. I understand why everyone was always wanting to burn us and drown us and press us under rock because there is magic in these brews. We pour all our love and understanding and knowledge of this being good with that and that pain needing this herb. It is a way that women are different, that our womb carries on even after it no longer produces children. We are compelled to produce life and to encourage it and to comfort it at the end.
It occurs to me that every funeral I’ve attended–save one–has been a Baptist funeral. And even the Nazarene funeral followed the cardinal rule of Baptist funerals. There was a ham. I don’t know if I can properly grieve without a ham and some cheese cut into triangles and some dinner rolls. I know it sounds like I just might be joking, but really I am not. For me that’s closure, the culinary version of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes.
My husband* said last night that the viewing was scheduled for two hours but actually ran for five and a half. The people just kept lining up in a human chain that snaked around the church. Afterward they had turkey. I assume there will be ham today after the service itself.
I know that I’m an Anabaptist. I get that we Mennonites have our own ways of doing things. But I am now insisting that there be for me instead of a “viewing” where sombre people file past to have a look at the body I vacated there be food and drink and music. Not because I don’t want people to be sad, but because I want those sad people to eat with their bodies and their souls. They need to be fed because they’re still stuck in these contraptions that require it. Not that the line to my shell will last for hours, of course. Knowing me it’ll be over in thirty minutes or less. Like a pizza.
For now I’ll comfort myself with hearing a few hymns and having a piece of cold fried chicken. I think the chicken is Lutheran, or maybe Methodist. But today we can be ecumenical in our grief.
*I know that most of you know his name. But it’s always been my #1 Rule of the Blog that his name not be written here. I don’t want people who google him professionally to be assaulted with a slew of ramblings.