They came to my house at 7 and we headed south. First I dropped my car at Matt’s so he could work on it while I was out of town, then we kept going, eventually to the “iconic Taconic” Parkway, as my mom called it. It was rainy, then it was sunny. The leaves on the trees weren’t particularly interesting, not brilliant hues. Not yet, anyway. We were on our way to the funeral.
The church was cold inside. All the marble and big, empty space didn’t help. It was disorienting for everyone to be there, I think; when Dad’s friend left Vermont to visit some of his kids and grandkids last week no one expected him to be placed in the ground instead of returning to the green hills of Danby.
He had so many kids! His son, Nick, the frontman for the fabulous band, DeVotchKa, sang from the balcony. He did the soundtrack for Little Miss Sunshine and Ruby Sparks, but this morning he was singing his father out of this world and into the next. His voice is beautiful. He has a good heart, too. Our dads had been friends for twenty years.
“We would have been playing golf up at Stratton on a day like this,” is what Dad said at the cemetery.
We took a right turn from there and went to visit some of our family who live not far from the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where we buried John. They set out a lunch for us of bagels and lox and herbed cream cheese, scrambled eggs, sliced tomatoes, homemade chocolate chip cookies and tea. And we talked of my trip to Israel, the places I’ll see, what not to miss. And we talked of his stem cell transplant and how his body is essentially regrowing all of the important parts, like a whole new birth, a second chance at everything. He is both frail and the strongest person I know. We talked about the people we love: my brother, their son-in-law; their daughter, my sister-in-law; their grandkids, my nephews. How we love all of them like crazy.
We took a right turn out of their driveway and headed north, back to Vermont. I drove, Dad slept in the back, Mom and I chatted. The windy, tight spaces of the Taconic made her nervous. In Chatham we stopped for gas and then Dad drove while I slept.
When I woke up we were already in Manchester. Mom and Dad dropped me at Matt’s shop so I could pick up my car.
I took a right out of the shop parking lot and headed north toward home. I was hungry but I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store and I didn’t really want restaurant food. I remembered the Someday Farm stand in Dorset and wondered if it would be open at night.
The little honor system shop was filled with vegetables and meats and eggs, onions, jars of jam. I picked out a chicken and some hamburger, some broccoli, eggs and a jar of raspberry jam, put a check in the slot and left.
My friend, Ellen, had taken care of my dog, Daisy. In my absence she had walked Daisy and fed her and brought her to her house for a little while.
I was feeling greedy and in need of some warmth, so I put a fire in the woodstove and in the fireplace. I walked Daisy. I opened the package of new Coco tattoos that I had found on the doorstep when I got home. I cooked the hamburger, melted some cheese on top and shared it with Daisy. I spoke with some of the people I love; I sat by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate and wrote this story.
A funeral, some lox, Sleepy Hollow at Halloween time. A farewell to a friend; delight in another’s renewed health. Homemade cookies, windy roads, the honor system. Friends hugging, friends singing, talking, eating, friends helping. Kindness, generosity, sorrow, love, song, autumn, hope, faith, loss, family, food. The sun came out in the afternoon and when I looked outside before I went to bed it was snowing.
It was a day. It was a beautiful day. Amen.