Thursday, September 20, 2007

angels on the subway

Thou only art immortal, the creator and maker of mankind; and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and unto earth shall we return. For so thou didst ordain when thou createdst me, saying, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." All we go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
— from the Burial service, Book of Common Prayer

Those words from the burial service catch in my throat when I say them. I love them, yet they wrench my heart. They speak of another universal mystery I cannot explain in words, but understand with every fiber of my being. I am of the Earth, much as I sometimes like to think otherwise.

I attended a funeral at my old church yesterday... Mundell, a friend from our neighborhood group had died.

It was at that same neighborhood group's monthly dinner (now over four years ago) that I learned I had been accepted as a postulant to this community. I had asked to access my email on my hostess's son's computer... and there it was: the acceptance letter from the novice guardian. I shrieked, and everyone crowded around to view the results.

So this funeral... that gathered most of the people from that other evening's celebration, was a reunion for me. One of the last guys in our group (the other two mainstays have also died) had helped move all my belongings to various locations all over town. He was at the funeral, full of mischief, and intent on getting me sloshed... not especially difficult since I don't drink much these days. Another friend confided that the caterer's tab was $66 per head, and the minimum was 40, so I should eat a few more jumbo shrimp as I chugged my third glass of wine. Yikes. $66 per head?

I sat on the steps with our neighborhood group convener, an idiotic word for a woman who has been the glue that binds this loosely knit assortment of people into a cohesive force of nature. She insisted that I ride the subway home with Jenny. Jenny was the hospice aide who was with Mundell in her last days on earth.

We rode the roundabout route downtown, crosstown, then uptown, and she spoke of her work with such affection and sincerity, I knew I was in the presence of one of those earth-angels... a person sent by God to be in the right place at the right time. That she was a blessing to Mundell I have no doubt, because she was definitely a blessing to me.


HeyJules said...

I certainly don't want to trivialize the death of your friend but I think it remarkable timing that you both moved on to new homes on the same day.

Congratulations on your acceptance to the community. I'm so very happy for you.

Gaby said...

Mundell must have had a wonderful time with you at her Memorial Service! Her Jenny had begun to help Mundell in rehab and then at the hospital - and, finally, in hospice. She was a loving and caring person and Mundell was fortunate and blessed to have her to keep her company and to take such good care of her. It was one of those lovely God-instances that you were to take the same route home.

It was wonderful to see you at St. Bart's and stingily wish there were two of you: One for your new life and one for us (*~*). So glad things sometimes coordinate.

With love,