Cheers

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.

7 Comments to Cheers

  1. Ignacio says:

    L’chaim!

    The innocence of children oft-times remind us of what is true and right in this world.

    In reading your post, I thought to myself: “Those children can express themselves in such a loving way to those who are dying and who have passed, because they have not been corrupted by the agony of having someone die.” Now if I could just model myself after their innocent insouciance, instead of getting wrapped up in the baggage that I carry, what a feat that would be.

    Thanks for writing, I truly enjoy your blog!

    • mjonesbushnell@gmail.com says:

      Thanks for reading. Death really is one tricky thing to know what to do with. And then you add the fact that it isn’t just death but dead people. People we love who go so far away we can’t see them. My questions for what to do with it: Run? Hide? Accept? Embrace? Complicated indeed. Thanks for reading.

  2. Rachel Bushnell says:

    Ignacio says it for me. What a wonderful moment of truth. It was a thin place where eternity spilled backwards. I am sure that the saints and the angels heard your children praying and our Father’s heart was touched.

  3. Leslie Lynch says:

    I needed this today. My Mom’s birthday was today, and our Mass intention was for her. She died almost two years ago, and I was really quite fine with everything (during the Mass) until the deacon said her name during the prayers of the faithful. It struck me then that no one has said her name in all that time. We’ve talked about her, but as “Mother” or “Mom.” Not by name. Hearing it from someone else’s lips brought me to tears. So here’s some Cheers to help banish the tears! Glad your kids are being raised to be aware and compassionate, and especially to bring their hearts to Our Father.

    • mjonesbushnell@gmail.com says:

      Happy Birthday to your Mom. I’m sorry to be a day late. I know what you mean about remembering. A few people have messaged me lately that they remember my mom (who died almost 13 years ago now) and it made me cry. Even though I know it isn’t true, sometimes I feel like I am the only one who remembers. – I’m so glad that your Mom was remembered on her birthday. I’m glad they said her name.

  4. Sally says:

    I think celebrating their lives while remembering them is a very good thing. I love your blog.

    • mjonesbushnell@gmail.com says:

      It really is important. I am seeing more and more how death-phobic our culture is sometimes. – – – Thanks for following the blog!