Thursday, December 31, 2009

A year ended

Amelia Frances Weiksnar Caruso
January 20, 1989 - December 26, 2009

We just got back from Amy's funeral and burial. Her service was held at the new catholic church in the small town where she grew up, and where our family once lived. There are several large simple windows behind the altar, not ornate drapes or panels - all the better to see the bare branches of nearby trees, and the stark white sky beyond.

Halfway through the service, snow began to fall, and several hours later it continues still. I watched the snow while priests read from their books, and later, standing in the cemetery, I listened to the flakes lightly fall upon the fabric of an umbrella. It reminded me of the closing lines in The Dead, that timeless, beautiful, and most unsettling short story by James Joyce:
His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious of, but could not apprehend, their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself which these dead had one time reared and lived in was dissolving and dwindling.

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.