July 12, 2011 Comments Off on Another Funeral
Simon’s grandfather Norman Lank died last Saturday morning, and I flew out to Rochester for the funeral on Sunday. Simon’s cousin Julia asked me how many funerals I’d been to, and I said maybe four or five (final count: five wakes and five funerals), “enough not to be afraid of them anymore.” I said it without thinking, but it’s true, and that’s a great thing. Because not only am I not afraid of the funeral itself, but I’m not afraid to make eye contact with people who are crying, and I’m not afraid to smile and laugh with them (if appropriate, obviously—ask me what it’s like to burst out laughing while an ultra-conservative rabbi is having a solemn discussion with the family nearby), and I’m not afraid that the bereaved might not want to cry or talk about it. I know to take cues from what the people closest to Norm were feeling, which I think is a good way to handle it. I was a pretty minor character in this funeral, mostly in the background as far as most people were concerned, but I like to think I wasn’t a burden the way I imagine some people—the people who insist on thinking that there’s nothing more to a funeral than crying for a whole weekend—might have been. I didn’t know Norm very well at all. It was nice to hear his family explain what he meant to them.