Last Saturday, Sarah and I arrived in Fort Dodge after a 13 hour drive from Colorado to Iowa. We were there to say goodbye to our Grandma Anderson, who had died days earlier.
The last time I'd seen Grandma was, coincidentally, a year and a half earlier at another funeral, that of Aunt Jean.
Grandma was 92 years old. She was the second oldest of 14 children of Irish parents. The remaining six McMahons arrived Sunday for the visitation, along with many other family and friends.
She looked good, but not natural, of course, because it wasn't exactly Grandma. Corpses disturb us in the same way that ghosts do: they are only half human. Bodies without souls and disembodied souls frighten us because we know that it is not the natural human state.
We spent the afternoon at the funeral home, where we prayed the rosary with the Catholic Daughters of the Americas. I couldn't help think back to the rosary at Grandma Naser's visitation where the priest prayed, "Hail Mary, fulla grace, blessadart thoumong women and blessadiz tha fruita thywoom, Geez-zus."
Following the vigil was the Irish wake at Community Tavern, where 30 or so of the family celebrated Grandma's life over pizza and beer. We closed the place down.
The Mass of Christian Burial is the most beautiful ritual that we have to commend our loved ones to the Lord. In that one instance, when we step outside of time, when Heaven and Earth unite at the both the foot of the Cross and the Lamb's High Feast, we pass from mourning to joy. This is exactly what happened that Monday morning.
And so the mood of the family who crammed into Aunt Marilyn's house Monday night was much different. The food and drink we shared had something to do with it, to be sure, but it was also the Faith we shared with Grandma and each other.
May perpetual light shine upon her.