Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Who brought the lavendar?

White lillies covered the coffin. Were they Christmas lillies? It was Christmas after all.

In between, just peaking out, were the lavender buds. Who had put them there? And why?

As she moved close to the coffin, lining up to receive a little Communion, the urge to pluck some lavender was strong. A frantic thought to distract from the sorrow.

The priest had a voice like the film reviewer, the one whose brother is a famous actor; a soothing voice, a voice of wisdom. How interesting. You could sound wise just by the timbre of the voice. Note to self: make a conscious effort to speak at a lower tone.

As people shuffled back to their seats, the Catholics re-joining their non believing brethren for the day, a screen at the front of the church powered up. Images from the dead one's life began to flow, the smiling, happy faces of camera times - births, marriages, parties, dress-ups, restaurants, dead fathers, 15-year-old tennis pros. Is this the sum of us? The snapshots from holidays, the frozen grins from the happier days?

Funny how we don’t take shots of the meaner times – the day our dad dies, the moment we lose the job, the meeting where we get the diagnosis, the point where love is lost. A very different slide show!

Chubby doll-like arms, a blunt, short fringe, the baby on the soap powder box - visions of the gal some 50 years ago. Faces on the screen were faces in the crowd too. The images held power, such power … hot, stinging, tissue-wielding power. A whole row, five from the front, wiped their noses and the pregnant girl on her own, at the end, the one with crutches, swiped across her face with a broad, open palm. She had no tissue.

So many faces, so many smiles, so many showers and new outfits and vacuumed rugs and cleaned toilets and fresh flowers and milk in the fridge and last minute panicking. So many things that make up a life of having friends and entertaining and going out and laughing loud and making tomato relish and working hard each day. Is this the sum of us?

Maybe so and what’s the problem? The sum is the hole we leave behind. The hole, not the whole. The quick punch in the guts we deliver, unexpectedly, to a few dozen people who see a photo, smell a smell, hear a song and think of us, they know we're gone. The sum of us is the hole, the gut punch, the unexpected tear or the wry, cheeky smile, the message of the lavender is what we leave behind.


Post a Comment

<< Home