The numbers of people potentially offended or irritated by this post grow in my mind with every passing second. Nevertheless, it happened on County Road 21, and seemed to me both true and beautiful.
Dinner time was drawing to a close. My son thought he remembered that it was All Soul’s Day. I explained that All Saints Day was Nov. 1, All Souls Day on Nov. 2, and therefore past. Remembering the dead is not something I do easily. Sometimes I celebrate my mother’s birthday. Sometimes I do not. Although the dead I know now include my mother, my paternal grandparents, and my miscarried children, it is only on some days that I find myself comfortable loving across the chasm that divides us. The loving seems too often to come with aching.
This difficulty with the dead does not exist for my children. Maybe because they have tasted death mostly in farm animals, or maybe because they are children and see things differently. My son didn’t worry himself with fine lines of time and place.
“I’m going to say a prayer anyway,” he said cheerfully. Chewing. Thinking. We waited.
“Ok everybody, get your glass. I’m asking this prayer for all the people in palliative care right now. Cheers.” He raised his glass and waited for us to clink glasses with him.
“Do you know what palliative care means?” I asked.
“Yeah. It’s people that are dying.” He smiled and raised his glass to clink against mine.
The idea was very enthusiastically received. Other children’s prayers and glass clinking quickly followed. Their father tried valiantly to maintain the dignity of the occasion while being asked to clink his beer bottle with everyone after each of the prayers. We made it through without laughing until we cried by avoiding each other’s eyes until it was all over.
My worries about how strange we are got the best of me. “Ok, so this was really nice,” I said. “It was a good thing you all did, saying those prayers, doing cheers. But just so you know, there isn’t anywhere else in the world where people do it like that. You won’t ever find a place where people are praying and raising glasses to say cheers afterwards. It’s fine. It’s good. I just wanted you to know that people might not get it if you tried it somewhere else.”
Quizzical looks. Shoulder shrugs. Mom is strange. Business as usual. Are there any more Doritos?
“There’s something right about it, you know?” my husband said when it was over. “I mean I know it’s different. I can’t really explain it. But there’s something good about it. Something that’s the way it should be.”
He’s right. They’re right. So may God bless you, my readers. May love hold each of you gently and tenderly today. Pour the milk. Pour the wine. Cheers. Raise a glass.