No person was ever honored for what he or she received. Honor is the reward for what he or she gave. ~Calvin Coolidge
Yesterday, there was a lovely memorial service for my sister-in-law at the family homeplace. She lived less than five months after her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, and it is still hard to believe she is gone. It was gratifying to see the many people she had touched and to hear their testament to her passion and fierce advocacy for those with disabilities. We all learned something new about the meaning of her life.
This was my contribution:
So strange–that small, still space
your ashes now inhabit. We had no time,
no time to solve for x: the family minus you.
I want to remember how you rose early,
mornings at Edna’s, and made the blessed coffee,
reading us the headlines from the kitchen table.
I want to remember how you insisted
we always decorate a Christmas tree,
all of us glad for our effort in the end.
I want to remember how you doted
on your mackerel tabby,
before the pain made you push him away.
I want to remember how we could taunt you
with bananas, before the cancer
stole your appetite, wasted you.
I want to remember how you could make me laugh
without fail, even when you had little
left to laugh about.
Though I know almost nothing,
of this one thing I am certain:
There is laughter where you are.