10 March 2009

In Honor Of

Yesterday, I had to attend a service for a friend and colleague. 52, just remarried with a son who'd just joined the Navy and a stepson who needed him. A fun, vibrant human being with stories to tell and a ready laugh.

It wasn't such a terrible thing, picking out my clothes yesterday. It seems trite, I suppose, to be worried about a thing like that when others have lost their heart. All I had to do was reach in the closet and pull out a dress. T can't ever reach next to her, where B's hand should be, and touch him, just to know he's there.

Yesterday's service got me thinking about the last few I've been to...my cousin, last fall. At 37. I'm sure I thought about it, but have no idea what I wore. He wouldn't have cared, of course. My grandmother, last March. Then, I just had to worry about - ahem - access, since I had to pull out ye olde pump in the car on the way there and back. My grandfather, a few years before that...couldn't tell you.

But about 3 years ago, I had the awful chore of getting ready for the type of funeral (as if there are any) you never, ever, want to have to go to - a child's. He was 17, the only son of friends. He'd had a heart condition, and went into what should have been relatively routine surgery to repair his heart, and never woke up. The grief is unimaginable.

I was pregnant. I was torn. I in no way wanted to be pregnant in front of his mother, the woman who had just lost her baby. I tried on every outfit in my closet, asking H each time which one made me look the least pregnant. I couldn't bear the idea of hurting her any more. Looking back, I'm sure there is no way she would have ever noticed in her grief. How could she have seen anything at all?

But what struck me at the time, and still does, is the delicate dance of showing respect. Clothing may not be important at such a horrible time, but we still use it to try and honor. We probably fall short, but still, we don our grey and black, and wear an appropriate solemn face. Our servicemen and women - whether military or law enforcement - pull out their dress uniforms and shine their buttons.

We tell ourselves it's to honor. I wonder if it's really to sheild.

1 comment:

Miss Scarlet said...

You're so right. At my grandfather's funeral*, my sister and I went different routes. I was more traditional in black, while she wore something nice and respectful, but in the lighter brown family. It kind of symbolized how we were at the viewing and actual funeral- we were sad, of course, but we also were remembering such an awesome person. We kept joking that non-family members probably thought we were crazy because every once and awhile we would start giggling and laughing.

*whoa I'm so going to cry! Where did that come from!?