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Wednesday, May 19

laughter and tears

The memorial for my former brother in law was Monday. I wrote of him last week. It was a sad day, naturally, and it hurt my heart to see his wife, whom I love, so cloaked in grief and pain.

The service was light and brief, filled with stories told by friends, stories that brought a chuckle. And there were recordings of Phil playing the guitar he loved, his son operating the player, wiping tears from his face.

And then the minister, who had previously acknowledged that he never met Phil, rose to give what was to be a comforting talk and immediately referred to the legacy of Jeff.


Some family members in the front row loudly whispered "Phil!" and he apologized and went on. And then, a few moments later, referred once more to Jeff. This time there was scattered laughter and a louder correction from a greater number of people. Mortified, he apologized again and said "I don't even know a Jeff!"

There were refreshments afterwards and Suze was surrounded by friends and family, so we went to the dining room and waited to speak to her there. She hugged Russell and cried and then held me and I felt her finally give way to it all, shuddering breaths and deep sobs so I held her even tighter and stroked her hair. Her eyes were swollen with days of tears and I wiped them from her cheeks and said I knew she would be OK, she would. She spoke of how much she missed him already and her loss was so deep, her pain so raw. Be strong, I said, reaching for cliche when there is no wisdom to offer, and then I said "Jeff would want you to be strong" and she threw her head back and laughed. Finally. And took a breath.

I went back to my ordinary life,thankful to have it, and she walked into an unknown life, one that she doubts she can navigate, but she will. She has her children and her memories and the ability to laugh.

And I know Jeff is looking out for her.

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