Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Carrying on

I've really had my hands full these last couple of weeks.

Among other things, I'm slogging through the last remaining assignment for the online course I started in September, and which I've blogged about here. I jumped over this particular assignment, a formal research paper using the APA format, and completed the final project. But now I've got to get the paper done. I first got an administrative extension, but that expired on Saturday. Now I'm working with a new deadline of February 8th.

I can do it. I know I can do it.

The paper's actually been kind of fun. My subject is blogging, and there's some really good material on the topic to draw on. I've just never done such formal writing before. We'll see how it goes.

Meanwhile, I've been keeping up a combination of emails and visits with Amy's family. Her death has been very much on my mind, in many ways.

I've lately been thinking about the stark contrast between the unfulfilled promise of Amy's youth on the one hand, and the certain grace with which her two siblings, Phil and Evelyn, not so much older, rose to face the reality of her death. So, too, did Kaitlin, the girlfriend of Amy's brother.

Adults are supposed to stand strong at a time like this. It's what we expect, even from the parents of a child who's died. But to see such young adults, and by that I mean adults who are still young themselves, and who've had no previous opportunities to prepare, carry themselves with dignity...well, let's just say it gives me hope.

I recently wrote to Kaitlin:
...when I said that I was moved and proud to see Phil and Ev, I also meant you, and how you stood with them. As someone who's sort of standing on the threshold of being an old fart (and I emphasize the qualifier "sort of"), it's comforting to see the next generation moving into place.

I feel that way about my own two kids.

I'm also reminded of my mother in law's funeral, just over 5 years ago. She was in her 80's, and had lived a very active life right up until her final week. She died at home, surrounded by her children and grandchildren, which is about as good as it gets.

When Jeanne (my wife) and her siblings were working out the details of their mother's funeral, the question of pallbearers arose. I suggested her grandchildren, and the siblings promptly agreed.

We had gotten into the limo, and were waiting outside the funeral home to get underway to the church. Eight of my mother in law's grandchildren between the ages of 18 and 28, six of them young women, two of whom were pregnant, stepped out with her casket, then loaded it into the hearse.

These were the same grandchildren whose young faces appeared in endless holiday photos and pictures of poolside parties going back to the late 1970's. And now here they were.

My sister in law, Mary, the mother of 3 of the pallbearers just said, "Well, look at them." We all knew exactly what she meant.

Just look at you.

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