Thursday, December 22, 2005

Paying last respects

I attended a wake last night for an old family friend—Sharon Brazell.

The Brazells were neighbors when I was young and they had two daughters my age. Brigid was in the same grade as me and Kelly was a year older. We started off going to St. Helen’s School together.

Eventually my parents moved me into public school, but I would still see the girls around the playground near our house. In time the Brazells moved out of the neighborhood, but our families would still see each other at various Christmas parties and backyard barbecues.

After a while our families drifted apart. Except for bumping into Brigid a couple of times in the first few years after college, I couldn’t tell you when the last time was that I saw any of the Brazells.

Nonetheless, I really felt I should go last night. It was a little strange seeing them. In my mind I always picture the Brazell girls as little kids. By the time we were teenagers they had moved and we were only seeing each other once or twice a year. So I never really got used to seeing them grown up.

And yet now here we are—full grown adults with our own families. I’m glad I was able to see them, albeit under such rotten circumstances. I enjoyed talking to these old childhood friends and felt bad for all of the years that have past without any contact with them.

I went to the wake by myself after work. My mom and my sister had already gone earlier. Afterward mom called me up and said she was proud of me for going. She said I was “good about going to wakes.”

The truth is I hate wakes. I don’t think I’ve ever been to one that I didn’t feel awkward and uncomfortable at (except, strangely enough, maybe my own father’s).

But I remember my father’s wake and how grateful I was for everyone who came. I remember all of the people from my life who showed up—friends old and new, my boss, a co-worker I hardly knew—and how much it meant to me. That’s why I suck it up and go to these things. It made me feel so good to see all of these people turn out for my father and I hope that I can make others feel good too.


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