Funeral For A Friend

Today was TimO’s memorial service. It was the first Christian funeral I’ve ever been to. It was a bit disconcerting because there was an entire church service, communion and all. No one stood up to give a eulogy for TimO; no one was asked to. The priest (or whatever an Episcopal minister is called) gave a humorous but self-serving homily about TimO’s life. It all lacked a certain emotion or warmth. Nevertheless, I participated as best I could.

Late last week, Sulialto asked me if I “would be Episcopalian for a day.” Of course. I had no idea what that entailed, but how hard could it be to join a church choir for one service. Very hard. I got the music earlier in the week and studied it. I went over to Bird’s house for some coaching and guidance. I showed up on time today and immediately disliked the church organist/music director, but I kept my mouth shut. I couldn’t shove myself into the black cassock which everyone else managed to wear. I did fit into the white cassock, which was fine because I had on a white shirt and black pants. I felt like an idiot, but apparently no one noticed. We processed into the church two-by-two. Everyone else bowed at the altar, but I did not.

I sang the best I could, not having warmed up too well. I had poor breath control today. I was nervous and tired and borderline emotional. Actually, I held up pretty well during the service. However, during the offering of peace — you turn to your neighbors and bid them peace — DivaSal (another chorister and chorale friend) hugged me tight and said, “You did a very special thing singing today for Sulialto and TimO. You’re a wonderful friend.” That made me cry. Thankfully, I tucked a handkerchief into my choir folder.

We finished singing and processed out of the church into a picture- perfect Florida afternoon. I went through the receiving line (another alien concept) and hugged Sulialto and her daughter. I gave my condolences to the rest of the family and drove home. Fortunately, the funeral reception — Episcopalian shivah?? — was being held at my neighbor’s house down the street. I changed clothes and walked down to pay my respects for a little while. Everyone came up to me and thanked me for singing with the church choir. They all said how wonderful we sounded and how amazed they were at how smoothly it went. I was pleased to honor my friend and her husband this way.

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6 thoughts on “Funeral For A Friend

  1. Your gift of music is a wonderful thing. Extending your love and compassion is, as always, so freely given. I thank G*d every day that I have friends like you. I hope others give to you as freely.

  2. I went to my first Jewish funeral about a year ago, when my husband’s best friend’s mother died. The differences in traditions are amazing. I learned a lot that day. I was lucky that my Jewish WSM friend educated me a little beforehand and told me not to send flowers!

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