Best Experienced With: Band of Horses; The Funeral
(Please right click on the link below to open the suggested background music for this evening’s gathering to read some poetry and celebrate the laughter of my Aunt Barb and my mom.)
My mother and my Aunt Barbara, together in a room, laughing, could cause the most disciplined of Carthusian monks to break out in uncontrollable laughter. Mom and Barb, as a tag team, could draw the same French monk into conversation, despite the Carthusian monk’s vow of silence. Because my mom and her sister Barb embodied vivaciousness and good will. Was always a pleasure to watch the two of them laugh together.
My full head of hair and blue eyes come from my father. My distaste of authority comes from the Westlake, Ohio police department and certain other intangible factors documented through several Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventories. My loud, off-putting hyena laugh comes from the same genetic code as Aunt Barb and mom: it’s on the twenty-third exon on the fourteenth twist in the helix. The exon on the left, not the one on the right.
Two nights ago, when mom called to tell me that Aunt Barb had passed away, hung up the hotel phone and pictured the two of them laughing throughout the years. Closed my eyes and pictured Saint Peter welcoming Barb with open arms and saying “we have been waiting for your laughter to light things up around here.” Damn fine image.
Something for Aunt Barb from Henry Scott Holland, a Canon at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in the early 1900’s. A poem, titled “Death is Nothing at All”. Damn fine poem.
Was blessed to watch two sisters have the friendship and love that Barb and mom had for years and years. Damn fine sisterly love.
Death is Nothing at All
Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.
All is well.