The world of writing and reading and my general cranky pants approach to life has been interrupted by one of life's real moments: the death of a family member. My mother-in-law passed away this week. She had been in failing health for many months, but I don't know if that makes it easier. Perhaps less of a surprise, yes, the but the sense of loss is the same. Someone who has filled a place in one's life is no longer there. The longer I live, the more I realize how irreplaceable people are. Their unique contribution remains unique. You fill in the hours that would have been their hours with other people, other conversations, but their unique scent doesn't fill the room and their particular voice is silent.
Not being religious people, we are all struggling how to structure her memorial in the absence of ritual. Because the thing about ritual is that there are distinct road maps. Given that neither of us are formal people, my husband and I struggled with this when we got married. My sister had a full-blown Catholic mass, which was very big on ritual and their responses scripted out. Being total pagans, my husband and I couldn't go that route, and without a traditional structure, we found that our ceremony was going to be approximately three minutes long and that included the music. We filled the time with poems that we both loved and stretched out the music, and hoped against hope that no one would miss our vows to each other if they yawned.
Similarly, we are now organizing a memorial that has no structure other than we're all terribly sad, we agree that food would be lovely, and perhaps some New Orleans jazz would be grand. Perhaps a tribute or two would be also be nice. And maybe that's enough