Wednesday, March 30, 2016


A little over ten years ago I was standing only a few feet from the casket where my mother lay. It was the morning that she would be buried, and the people surrounding me were my brothers and their families, cousins and a few childhood friends of my parents.

I knew that one of the defining moments of my life was before me.

 When I looked up at one point, two friends from Boston were coming up to me. I had not known that they would make the trip down to New Orleans for the funeral. As they walked toward me, I felt a familiar life walking toward me, the way of being myself that operates most days, an adult me with a long history.

Those two friends restored me to myself. They let me move through the next few hours with greater freedom and less fear. By being there, they told me that I had not died even if my mother had.

This morning I am traveling with those two friends to another funeral. Here in Pennsylvania, we will walk up to a friend of many years as she approaches a defining moment in her life.

She will come into focus for us in a way she does not in our day to day life in Boston. She will be flanked by her husband and sons, surrounded by her brothers and sisters, called with them to represent the father who will be buried later this day.

All the logistics of hotel accommodations and breakfast rooms, interstate highways and exits, garment bags and suits and overcoats are in service of greater freedom and less fear for a friend.

Not far from her father's casket, she will look up at a point this morning and see us walking toward her. It will be a familiar life walking toward her, the way of being herself that operates most days, an adult life and its long history.

We are hoping to play some part in restoring her.