Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Quite an odd weekend really. Four days without Kevin and Whisky, four days of weird weather, and in the middle of it, going to see my friend in the nursing home where I see her every week, only this time, she was dead.
She was well protected though. From the walls, the Hindu god Shiva smiled beatifically at her, over her bed a First Nations catcher of dreams or spirits or bad vibes, and cedar at the window, I presume to heal her. Muslims were coming later to perform some kind of last rites type deal, and tomorrow there's a three hour requiem mass. Unless it turns out that Judaism is after all the one true religion, I think she's pretty much covered.

Tuesday evening the funeral rites began. The 'Wake' turned out to have little in common with an actual Wake. It was more of an audience. The deceased lay in her casket at the front of the room, and people spoke about her, then there were snacks, but Kevin and I ducked out at that point. I had feared this, feared my own inability to consign my friend to 'memory', read-only. And feared the unscripted bit, where people are invited to come up and speak. I've experienced this before, and people do feel they have to speak, even when they have nothing to say, nothing can go on indefinitely. But it was tolerable. The family had done an amazing job of organisation, truly amazing.

This morning was the Mass. The original e-mail had advertised 'Full Catholic Mass, 11.00 - 14.00.' (Probably didn't say 14.00, but hey, why not upgrade?) Thus, again, I feared, this time feared a three hour requiem mass. In fact the Mass was over in under an hour, and then snacks.
But I had forgotten the extent to which unreconstructed Catholicism batters innocence with patriarchy. I felt dirty, unclean. Everything was male, feudal. Lord, Lord, Lord. Male priest, male servers, ten (yes, ten) pale-skinned, reddish-bearded Apostles and Caucasian crucified Jesus. Mary, mid-brown haired, fair Mary, the token female.
The priest claimed to, but in truth did not know Anne. And he then 'reminded' us that only practising Catholics could take communion, which in any case was swift, the line being given just a wafer, no kneeling, no gentle words, no wine, just wafer, move, wafer, move.
The family are lovely people, they and my friend deserved better, but hey, that's what she signed them up for.

When I got back, I received an e-mail from someone I used to work with, informing me that a co-worker had died last night. A friend. Not a close friend like Anne, but a woman I liked and valued.

And it's raining again. It never rains, but it pours.

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