Yesterday, we heard a sincere conversation about death.
Alone, Aunty B asked me how many siblings I had, which number was I, brothers or sisters.
I knew her to be a widow. Instead of hearing that I was an only child like most people do, she heard the truth. She took it in without comment and we continued to move through the rhythm of our day.
Alone, Padi J told me of her family life, three children, away from home and her husband dead a year.
We sat that night, Aunty B, Padi J, Padi F, and I, together drinking Bugnay wine around the table.
We heard that Thursday would be the memorial service for Padi F’s father in law, just about one year dead. In Igorot culture, when one loses their partner, they are not allowed to travel from their home for one year.
We heard that Padi F’s mother in law is ready for this service, for this release, because she is a working woman.
We heard from Padi J that it was hard to be alone, how her husband was gone in the prime of life.
We heard how he died very suddenly playing baseball during a church youth gathering. He too was a Padi. He had chest pain, then began to vomit. The hospital was very far. He arrived, was there twenty minutes, and it was finished.
We heard how Aunty B’s husband said he was ready to die. That he was not afraid. He was in the hospital for a month. Once you have diabetes, the doctor says there is no cure. You die from complications. That is what happened.
We heard a question about my brother. The answer was that he was very young and that the illness was long and drawn out. That death brought relief.
We heard Padi J’s opinion that forty-two, at least, was a better age.
We heard that it was well to talk about the dead, because All Souls Day is fast approaching.
We heard that when Aunty B’s husband was dying, he requested that she call a friend of his from seminary. That he was to sing amazing Grace at his funeral. The man sang beautifully. Aunty B had never heard him sing.
We heard about a priest who died and requested that Handel’s Hallelujah be sung at his funeral. You know, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Halle-e-lujah.
We heard that for the longest time it was forbidden to sing hallelujahs during a funeral mass.
We heard of many people planning their own funerals to lighten our loads.
We heard of a priest who wrote his own eulogy because he could not bear the thought that any person should be troubled by writing a sermon just for him.
We heard that a priest had assigned, in his last will and testament, a friend to do his eulogy. This priest took his own life. His friend wondered what he had done wrong to be assigned this role. The priest who dies had bone caner and was in much pain.
We heard about another priest with bone caner. The pain was so intense that he prayed to Satan. He said he would he Satan’s if only he could be healed. He was a good and faithful priest, most surely enjoying the eternal feast. No one could find fault in him. The pain was too great.
We heard silence.
We heard the bustle of dinner preparation and praise for the bugnay wine.