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The Ordinary Sacred

Funerals are funny things 
When we allow them to be 
Irreverent 
Back row giggles 
Too afraid to laugh out loud 
Lest we admit that the friend 
We are seeing off 
Was irreverent too 

Funny but 
Preposterous 
To pack a room 
full of people who 
Until moments before 
Were unknowingly 
Connected 
And nominate only 
A few to speak 
But there are only 
so many hours in a day 
So we sit 
Shoulder-to-shoulder 
With strangers and 
We laugh and cry 
At the absurdity of 
Summing up 
All of the moments 
between someone’s 
Arrival and Departure 
in a one-hour window 

We speak in hushed tones 
Though our loved one was 
Spirited and gregarious 
And too often fail to recognize 
The beautiful background noise 
Impatient, wriggling toddlers 
Cellphone alarms 
Candy wrappers and 
Crying babies and— 
If the departed has 
truly been a friend to all— 
Chuffing dogs 
And tinkling collars 
The sounds that remind us 
That life pauses for no one 
Even as we pause to hold space 
And that’s what makes it so 
Ordinary and 
Sacred 

We sing and we pray 
A call-and-response 
Communion is served 
But what we really want 
Are the stories 
That time He got so angry 
He threw the deck of cards 
(Draw Four!) 
How she made the best 
Spaghetti sauce but 
the recipe was lost in the fire 
(Have we figured out 
how much garlic she used yet?) 
Did you know they 
first met in 3rd grade? 
(Let me get the yearbook.) 
And those conversations 
Are how we keep them 
Next to us for the remainder 

It is said we do it for closure 
But our stories don’t end 
When we take our physical leave 
We just dog-ear the page 
Take off our glasses 
And trust those 
Who love us 
To sing us to sleep 
We tell each other - 
We will finish the story 
We will keep you close 
We will take care 
Of everything - 
It is time to rest.

--Ashley H., Adult