Not all those who wander are lost
I've been putting off writing about Janet's Memorial Service because of the finality of it all. The truth is I'm not ready to close the book Janet, not ready to write her off, and unable to face my own sorrow. Hearing the words that she's dead still strikes through the core. Over the years I've found that I've never truly been able to understand the deaths of those I've loved. Even after many years of sadness. The pain may lessen but never really goes away. And I'm certainly unable to face my own mortality.
But I hope to do justice to the Memorial Service we attended on Friday for Janet.
It was a pleasant day, the sky was clear. We pulled up to the Cemetery and I was struck by the beauty of the grounds. The population density is so high in Southern California that large plots of unobstructed greenery always surprise me and remind me of home. The architecture of the Mausoleum was old style missionesque. I even wondered if it could be old enough to have a connection to the Missions of California. It was built in the early 20th century and took it's more impressive structure from the buildings that came before.
The building itself was a labyrinth of marble and stone, accented with stained glass in all the right places. Mike and I found ourselves lost amongst the solemn quiet. We were surprised to come upon a Focault Pendulum swinging silently and majestically, suspended from above.
After we discovered the Pendulum we stumbled upon Father John. Father John is a cane welding, congenial fatherly sort. My Father in Law befriended him during Bill's Home Association Days. Father John must have forgiven Bill for all the parking citations because they had a solid friendship and Bill attended Father John's Mass, and in turn Father John conducted Bill's funeral service. Father John greeted us and remembered Janet and how she played the violin in such a touching way at Bill's service. He's just the type of person you can trust to perform a funeral service for a loved one. He has a commanding presence that lets you know he's got it all under control. During one of those typical conversational pauses we realized all three of us were lost in the labyrinth of cold marble vaults. A short time later we found the Mausoleum entrance after only a few locked doors and missteps.
I stopped to admire the Venus statue, softly lit intangibly and ethereally, a good harbinger for the start of the service.
We made our way to the top floor through a heavily wood paneled and creaky elevator. Beautiful white Lilies and Roses met us at Janet's final resting place. Many friends and family gradually made their appearance, causing the cold marble become heated. I could smell the dust as I introduced myself and indicated my relationship to Janet. Maya and her two cousins (all within 8 months of each other and none older than a year old) babbled and got passed around until the Father indicated we'd start the service. Father John adeptly took the reigns, telling the story of Jesus, Lazarus and Lazarus' sister Mary. He'd performed that piece so many times he carefully held the bible open, but had no need to consult it's yellowed pages. My Mother in Law wrote a bit about Janet. It was so skillfully and carefully written. Exactly what a Mother writes to her own daughter, taken by death too soon. I walked Maya around the silent vaults to prevent her excited squeals from distracting from the solemnity of the occasion while the attendees sniffled and wheezed their way through the service. All too soon the service was over, just like Janet's short life. We just stared at each other silently for a few moments after the dignified words finally stopped echoing through the corridors of our hearts.
La paz sea contigo, Janet
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