That has nothing to do with this, but the memory just came back to me.
Many's the Sunday morning my boyfriend and I would walk down to the big church at the end of his road, nursing a hangover and sore feet (on my part at least) from walking most of the way home in impractical footwear late on Saturday night. We'd go in the side door and line up in the pew beside his more punctual mother, already in situ and a lot more bushy-tailed than I. I've stood in the same spot with her at midnight mass on Christmas Eve too, after we were married, but before children made such things impractical.
Last Monday I stood in a pew in the center of the same church, just a few steps away and 90-degrees rotated from those seats, and tried to keep my children amused with small toys purloined from their cousins for the novelty value, and tried to pay attention to her funeral service, and tried to keep my mind off the reality of the long wooden box in front of the altar.
Then we stood in the rain - of course, the rain - in the cemetery, and it was stark. Even the wriggling, fractious child in my arms competing with the heavy funeral-home-provided umbrella couldn't prevent tears from welling every time I looked at my husband and watched him put an arm in comfort around his sister. How can we do this to the ones we love? How can we take them and put them away, far from sight and mind, in the cold hard ground, to moulder and rot? Who decided this was the best way? Surely in this year of our lord 2012, there's a more sanitary, more gentle method. Or do we need to see this most elemental of disposals, the age-old sod and shovel, territory of Yorrik himself, to have it finally hammered home in our unwilling minds?
We have flying cars. (I do. I was assured I would by now, at least, so I presume it will be here any day.) Why do we not have the facility to download the brain and personality of those who have passed on, or to at least access their memory banks and find out where they left the car keys or what their grandmother's maiden name was or how it felt on their first day of school? How can it be so sudden and so over?
My own mother, on the other hand, is erasing herself from the present backwards, reversing ever so slowly out of consciousness. Her brain is full, there is no room at the inn for new information. You can try to pile it on top, but it just wobbles and slips off again, and no matter how hard you try to cram it in, five minutes later you find yourself beginning anew with a fresh slate. She can still tell you who married whom in the halcyon days of Hollywood, and compute her times tables with a couple of muttered phrases in Irish, but if you ask her who that lady she just met was, she'll profess surprise that she just met a lady at all.
She's like one of those monks who brushes clear the path in front of them before they walk; but she's brushing clear the path behind her as she moves on, oblivious. Brings living in the present to a whole new level.
Somebody, somewhere, needs to rage against all this dying of the light. Why are they all taking it so peacefully?