Many things change, but much remains too.
Many, many, many years ago, the bunch of us classmates-turned-friends from CJC, attended one of the first few wakes together – that of one of our grandfathers. I remember thinking then, this must be the start of adulthood – having to face up to these painful goodbyes. I remember dreading then, how with each wake we attend, we would really be moving more intimately close to the deceased.
One guy friend asked in typical 19-year-old-boy-manner, “Why do we need to come to this wake? We don’t even know her grandfather!” I said something about being present for our friend in spite of knowing or not knowing her grandfather.
If memory serves me right, that was probably 15 years ago.
From then till now, the same group has been present for my grandfather’s, both my grandmothers’ and sadly, my father’s wake.
Tonight, the same bunch of us attended the wake of another friend’s beloved grandmother.
It strikes me how despite our busy schedules and the demands of daily life (there is work of course, but not forgetting the simpler and yet equally real demands required by relationship commitments, dating, Church, family, staying connected with other people, socialising, or simply just getting through one week to the next), friends who can be absent every now and then, would still show up just to be present in solidarity with the one who’s hurting and grieving.
Interestingly, at such times, there isn’t much grieving and mourning, but quite a fair amount of smiles and laughter going around. I wonder if it’s a form of denial for the family, or sheer exhaustion… but I personally find it comforting that one can be dying inside and still truly laugh at the opportunity of being together and exchanging silly anecdotes of our lives.
There is no need to wear grief on our sleeve.
I’ve been absent a lot from my friends’ lives, especially getting caught up with my share of commitments to everything else. But I still cherish the easy way our conversations flow and the hilarious ways we poke fun at one another, with no offense meant and none taken, reassured by our friendships and knowing that despite having drifted from one another at different times in our lives, we can always return and be together as one group, the way we have been for 17 years.
This gramma of our friend’s has always welcomed us to her home and always fed us well with homemade cookies when we were very much younger. Even in her passing, she has offered us a time to be together.
May you rest in peace, dear granny.