We were all back in Laverne last week to attend the funeral, grieve together, just be there. I have been away from Laverne for 14 years now. And while I knew every face and had many friends there, there are some things you forget about a small town. We all spent the days together at my Meme's and there was a steady stream of traffic...friends, family, community members...just people who heard what happened, knew we were hurting, and showed up (or called or texted or sent flowers or cards or emails).
As my sweet cousin Lori and I were having our fourth dessert one day (because it was there), she commented "Are we old enough that we should do this for other people when they lose someone?". And it got me to thinking. I think we are old enough. I think when you get old enough to appreciate the food and paper goods and stamps and phone calls that don't fix anything, but do somehow help, then you're old enough to pass that on.
I had never experienced or understood the idea of a "wake" (we're not catholic, so I don't know what it's called when you spend 3-4 days together as a family...eating, talking, just hanging out.) My excuse had always been 1) I don't know what to say 2) a casserole won't really make it better 3) they probably have so much food, they don't need anything 4) I didn't really know the person who died that well, etc. I rarely shop the sympathy card section. And, somewhere in the back of my mind was Lori's point...I don't think I'm old enough yet. It's not my generations responsibility yet.
But here's what I learned last week:
1) No body knows what to say, and that's not the point. Just acknowledge that something sad happened and that you're hurting with them.
2) Food doesn't fix anything, but it does somehow help. We ate every meal together for 4 days and never had to go to the grocery store. That's huge...'cause nobody wanted to go to the grocery store.
3) There was so much food, NEED was not the point. Maybe it was just nice to see the person who came by, maybe it spurred a conversation about that person (after they left) about the connection to Papa (old work stories, or hunting buddies, etc).
4) If we (my generation) doesn't learn how, it'll stop with us...and it can't stop.
So, I guess this is my big thank you to the town of Laverne...For being one of those rare things that is actually better in real life than in my memory.