I'm home. From Maine. From Conneticut. From my drive to both of those states. Through New York state on the drive in. Through Mass. Through New Hampshire. Back through NH and Mass to Conneticut. And then, back again.
Mike lost his grandmother, a woman who lived a long and well-lived life, from what I could see, as a bit of an outsider looking in on his amazing family ties, with their tolerance of each others intrinsic differences, with their particular brand of unconditional love towards each other. I met cousins. Second cousins. Third cousins. Fourth cousins. I visited his grandmother in the hospital on the last two days of her life. I visited her brother in another hospital and watched him recover (prayers were said. Mike's great uncle reminds me of my own late grandfather. A war man. A scion. A breed of understated masculinity that we don't get many glimpses of today in this revolving-door world). I met a second (third?) cousin of Mike's who had just had major surgery. I met another cousin (in law?) who suffers from cluster headaches. His wife and I had a long discussion about this topic.
I took the news to Mike that his grandmother had passed Wednesday morning.
I attended the funeral Friday morning, after a hurried shopping trip on Thursday for Mike and I to purchase funeral attire. I came dressed for beach. So did he. We just didn't think. But, then, you never do, do you?
We woke up super-early Friday morning, after spending a late evening working on Mike's writing piece that he was to read at his grandmother's funeral mass. We drove through the hills of Conneticut in deep fog. We had Starbucks. I straightened his tie.
The funeral home. The open casket. The feeling I alwasy have at events like this: that I've been lifted out of my daily life.
The funeral mass. The new church. My realization, as I sat with Mike's family. my in-laws, that I had never in my life been in a church outside of Canada. Mike's mom reminding me I get three wishes, since I had entered a new church. I didn't know about this--I made three wishes. Three slient, secret, selfish ones. Selfish for me and Mike, for our marriage. All for us.
Mike was a pallbearer with his cousins on this 80-plus farenheit day. They lifted the casket, six of them, from the funeral home to the hearse. From the hearse into the church. From the church into the hearse again. To the cemetary.
I looked for signs. I hadn't seen any yet. Or, if I had, I'd filed them away. Songs on the Conneticut radio that played twice (old song, "She Talks to Angels". They never play that. Anywhere). I parked with Mike at the cemetary and looked around after he and his cousins had laid the casket down.
The crowd was dispersing. We slipped a prayer card from my dad's service into the casket. His sister and I took some flowers from the grave, the beautiful arrangements of champagne roses, white gerbera daisies.
Mike's dad found a grave-bench to rest on. The sun was beating down, it was noon.
Our sign came then.
Near the bench grave was a new grave, as yet un-stoned. Just a marker and a small plant of yellow flowers held the place of the person buried beneath. It was for a baby, who'd lived only four days. August 22nd, 2012, to August 26th, 2012.
A baby named Keegan.
My tears welled up.
I laid down the white gerbera daisy I had been holding on the baby's brand-new grave.