I attended a funeral this morning for a woman who was somewhat like a mother to me at one time. When I first read the obituary in the paper I didn't cry . . . until I began writing in the online guest book. Then, I couldn't stop and was nearly late for work, and unsure how I would make it through the day. I remembered a million times spent at her home, her daughter being my closest friend from first through fourth grade. Doris was good friends with my mom, and she kind of picked up the slack when my mom died suddenly when I was nine and my mom just turned 30. I remembered Doris' arms around me in her kitchen, and memories rushed back of our families and the connections families made growing up in the Leave it to Beaver 50's, when moms stayed home with their kids, and chatted with the neighbors over coffee every morning. We kids played kickball in the street, and baseball in the vacant field behind our houses. I remembered our famous Lorry Avenue bike path so creatively called, "Up, Down and Around" which consisted of a vacant lot on the corner that was worn down from 30 kids pedaling their bikes furiously through it. So many, many memories.
Not all my tears were for Doris, although many of them were. They also were for my mom, and the step mom that replaced her for nearly 35 years, until her death, and my son who shouldn't have died at age 30, but did. I sobbed while writing, then sobbed through my shower, and nixed contacts and eye makeup for the day. I felt huge loss.
Today, I wept through the service, laughed at the video, and embraced neighbors from over 50 years ago, who were as happy to see my sister and I as we were to see them. It was healing, and I felt God's grace. We thanked Doris for bringing us together, for renewing ancient friendships, while sharing laughter over growing up craziness. Later, my sister and I drove down Lorry Avenue, pointing out who lived where; most of the time our memories felt right, but a couple of them we're not so sure of. We marveled at the changes, and also what has stayed somewhat the same. We sat in front of our old house, and wished for the "good old days" despite the fact that the worst horror of our young lives also happened on that street when our beautiful young mother died.
This morning, I dreaded going to the funeral. I knew I would be seeing many people who would remember our family tragedy and I knew I'd weep buckets. And, I was right about all of that. Yet, I was also glad that I went, and that my sister was with me, and that we were welcomed back into the fold with open arms. It felt right to be there, to allow myself to be cared about and hugged and we all made promises to not wait for the next funeral to make our connections again. We all need a Lorry Avenue Reunion.