Funerals are strange occasions. Ives is surrounded by strangers, political figures and local celebrities who attend the service because of the circumstances of Robert's death--young man, soon to enter the seminary, gunned down by a Hispanic youth on the steps of a church. Sort of like governors, senators, and U. S. Presidents showing up for memorial services for victims of school shootings or terrorist bombings or hurricanes. Funerals are a mixture of grief and celebration, tears and laughter, story-telling and preaching.
This afternoon, I went to the memorial service of a friend of mine. Dave died from pancreatic cancer in November in Las Vegas, but his family decided to have his funeral this summer, when the days are long and green in the Upper Peninsula. Dave was a musician, among other things. He could play any instrument and harmonize on any song.
I've known Dave for a long time. He was my daughter's piano teacher, and, for the last few years, he played bass guitar in the church band with me. Before that, I acted in plays with Dave. A recovering alcoholic, Dave was 21 years sober when he died. He attended AA meetings daily, sometimes more. He had a deep love of God. A lot of people call God their friend. I think Dave had breakfast with God every morning, surrendering his will to His will.
I am proud to be able to have called Dave my friend.
Once upon a time, a minstrel named Dave traveled the kingdom, spreading music and love everywhere he went. When they heard Dave strumming his guitar, people flocked to the town square to listen to him sing and joke.
One day, Dave got really sick. He knew he didn't have long to live. So he decided to perform one last time. On the appointed day, crowds gathered to hear Dave's final concert. But Dave didn't make it to the stage.
The night before, Dave got on a boat and sailed for the South Pacific, where he died under a palm tree, watching the locals harvest breadfruit and roast pig.
Moral of the story: always leave 'em wanting more. That's what Dave did.
And Saint Marty lived happily ever after.
The Angel of Death
by: Siv Cedering
Because she wanted me, I slipped out of my skin. I thought it would fall like unnecessary clothing in the corner, by the chair, but it was my skin that went to her, like a beige trench coat flying through the air.
Somewhere near the flue of the fireplace or beside the open window, she waited, calling me, and the hairs of my arms lifted their small antennas and listened. Tired of holding the body in place all these years, the skin loose, my empty hands flapping like gloves. Death must be something to hold on to.
In my nakedness, I stood there, white like a sprout is white before it reaches the air. Small white breasts, short white hair, white fringes of lashes around my colorless eyes. And skinless I could perceive all the small angels in things: dancing on the head of a pin, in the leg of a table, in the arm of the chair. Even in the air there were tiny galaxies spinning, as if it were Midsummer, and the dance had started. Then something stirred at the base of my spine. A warm coating started to spread, licking its long tongue over my surfaces, the elbow, the hip, the raspberry of my nipple, until each pore, mole, curve and mark was covered. Colors came back. The earlobes hung like drops from my ears, asleep, not listening.
But the angel of death is somewhere, watering my flowers, reading over my shoulder, counting the days of the moon. She tells me that invisible things exist: angels, molecules, the green horses of the grass.
|Dave and his beloved granddaughter|