No one wanted to leave. Not at the dinner the night before the wake. Not at the wake. Not at the graveside. Not at the Waterfront gathering nor at home afterwards. Repeated hugs; goodbyes. Forgot to tell you stories. Jokes that ‘this time it’s for real.’
I am an intimate outsider, in-law, uncle, spouse and dad in this gathering. Some of us have known each other for almost 50 years. Re-introductions of long forgotten cousins, friends, old neighbours, VFW colleagues, retired co-workers – even several staff from Dolores’ favourite lunch spot, Reds on Route 1. Personally, I was deeply touched by the arrival of a lifetime friend from Springfield and a classmate from the St. Francis class of 1964.
Dolores meant something to each of the two hundred people who passed through each others lives over the past few days. For many, myself included, it was the first 360 view of her best. Dolores’ grandchildren made exceptional efforts to be here. The last time so many cousins came together was at her 80th birthday a few years ago.
Dolores would have loved her send off. Thanks to her younger son and generous help from family and friends it fulfilled and exceeded her last wishes. The procession to St. Mary’s in Lynn went down Franklin St., a path she must have taken for many years on her way to school from her earliest home nearby. Full circle.
Her life was not easy. Her determination, smile, humour, and interest in others carried her through it and made the many grateful connections we shared the past few days. Many of these we will not see again. Others will re-open at future gatherings, weddings – and funerals.
Seize not the day. Seize the moments of contact and connection. Be they friends or family, near or far, these grow and they also die. Whether deliberate, accidental or inevitable our families and friends are the reflection of our own lives and what truly matters within it.