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I have always considered the whole process of a funeral barbaric and refused to attend any, preferring to honor the dead by caring for the living.

Once (and only once, thank God!) when I was five I was ordered to kneel at an open casket and pray for the soul of the nun therein. Trust me—at that age, being asked to stay in a scratchy dress and *be still* was torture! I was living at St. Vincent’s at the time and when in Rome and all that… The two youngest were always given this sacred duty. I remember the other five-year-old next to me who was praised for her (his? can’t remember the gender) devotion and purity of character… Ha! She had fallen asleep in the kneeling position but they never knew that.

I remember being fascinated that I could see the outlines of pennies under her thin eyelids. The nuns had prepped the body for burial themselves and it smelled. Or maybe it was mothballs in the casket. I don’t know. I do know that I got sick inside the casket and was in disgrace with the nuns ever after that event.

Is it any wonder I declared the funeral process barbaric, gross, and something to be avoided at all costs? For many (many, Many, MANY…I think I’ll stop there) years when a funeral came up, I did my best to get out of attending it. This bothered some and insulted others which was not my intent at all. I just didn’t see the point.

Somewhere in the last decade I believe I have changed my mind.

Ali’s death really brought home to me the concept that funerals ARE for the living. And this is one I find myself unable to attend due to previous promises. I sorely miss being there. Funerals reaffirm our connections and history with one another. Like weddings and christenings and all the other cultural group gatherings, funerals celebrate the life past and how it shaped the now living. Ali shapes mine still.


As the weather remains damp and the nights cool down, mountains of mushrooms explode across our landscapes, visibly growing almost as we watch them thrust up out of the grass, decaying leaves, and earthy humus.

mushrooms and DuncanUp at the Farm we saw several of these white-ish spires erupted near a blueberry patch. Imagine my surprise when I saw them at home this week. With puppies prancing, dancing, charging, and racing around the yard, these fragile structures don’t stand a chance.

mushroomsI don’t know why mushrooms fascinate me so. They evoke a variety of nocturnal imagery, eerily pale in the daylight, with sharply vivid oranges, intense tans, and pearly grays. In the moonlight they positively glow as if they are emitting light rather than reflecting it. Maybe it is how they spring forth out of dead and decaying material. Death supports new life.

AliInto this stream of thought I got a call that a precious person I once knew very well had died. She had recently broken her hip and there were complications. A flood of memories filled my mind: her raspy voice, the smells of her baking, weekly bowling leagues, Saturday night poker, the New Years Eve Gong Show video, her bright blue eyes, her devotion to her children and grandchildren, her generous and unconditional acceptance of me and mine…

Ali will be so very missed. I have been so blessed for the years I shared with her and the connections made through her. I loved you Ali and love you still. Memories of you will live long and prosper.

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