Saturday, April 22, 2006

Rituals

I sit in a silent house. It is 7:40 on a Saturday morning. I am on my third cup of coffee, have read the paper, fed the dog, had breakfast, and emptied the dishwasher. I am up when everyone else is not because a call came in at 5:20 AM from K saying that she needed a pickup. She had spent the night “sleeping” in a cardboard box as part of a fund raiser for the homeless.

She immediately hit the sack upon returning home (she still has one) while I pondered my options. I spose I could have done the same and hope that someone else would feed and water the dog but experience has shown that everyone else in this household assumes that I will fill that role, which makes it a self-fulfilling prophesy. So, I put on a pot of coffee and take care of it.

Now the dog is sawing logs in the bedroom with C. K is dead to the world having not slept all night. J is quiet in his room and may still be asleep, but it’s hard to know without cracking the door to check. And our guest for the weekend, P, is likewise, snoozing away.

We have a guest because C is going through closure. At least, that is how I am thinking of it. She is spending this time with those who have been close to her throughout her life. This is a good thing.

It is not scripted time. There are no speeches or testimonials. There are conversations and walks. There are the rituals of food preparation and consumption. There are periods of shared silence. Most of all, there is togetherness.

For the most part, I am a watcher of this more than a participant. I am a facilitator, a stagehand once removed from the play. Most of those who partake in these ceremonies are women – women carrying out ancient rites of family, friendship, love, and support – ensuring that life will go on even as individuals pass away.

In ancient societies, men and women had their own rituals, secret societies, and legends. In a way, I feel that we still do. During these gatherings, I feel like I am on the outside of the tent, or the cave, or the kiva, called upon from time to time to fetch water, or pass a needed object in. This is not an abject role by any means. I do not feel rejected or excluded. It is more a question of propriety. This is not my time. It is their time.

I think that it is wonderful that C has this time. Hard as it may be to contemplate the passing of a lover, a friend, a relative, it is worse in my mind to have that relationship severed suddenly, without the chance to pay respect, to bid adieu. Now, and for as long as we have, it is that time.

P.

3 Comments:

Blogger lime said...

you are such a wise man to recognize the need that others have to say goodbye and to so graciouslt facilitate it when your own heart must be breaking. may all that you give so tenderly be given back to you when you most need it.

also, thank you for the kind and supportive comments at my place. it's put a smile on my face receiving all the well wishes.

5:20 PM, April 25, 2006  
Blogger The Kept Woman said...

This is one of those situations where you hardly know the right thing to say...I mean me...

I agree with your thoughts on being able to spend time with loved ones and know that they will cherish these last meetings and memories with C for the rest of their lives.

10:27 AM, April 27, 2006  
Blogger Wenchy said...

I don't know which is worse really.... both sides of an evil coin if you ask me... a sudden departure or having the time to say goodbye, but see the hurt.

I am so very sorry.

9:02 AM, May 04, 2006  

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