A friend's husband passed away yesterday, just after sunset. He didn't want a funeral mass and he wanted to be buried right away. By 2 o'clock this afternoon, family, friends and neighbors had gathered at the funeral home he had owned and managed earlier in his life, ready to accompany him on his final journey.
His sons, nephews and brothers-in-law carried his casket on their shoulders, down the street and around the corner, to Greenport's oldest cemetery. His simple coffin was adorned with a Star of David, a prayer was said by a Catholic priest, and hymns were beautifully sung by two members of the A.M.E. Zion Church -- a tribute to his all-encompassing spirituality and world view. His wife, a gifted rug maker and storyteller, spoke eloquently of his life. His daughter laid sprigs of rosemary on his casket as a final farewell.
It was a sad and somber ceremony to be sure, but also sweet. I stood in the frigid air and marveled at this little place I live in on the edge of the Atlantic. Somehow, we all heard the news and knew that no matter the temperature or the time or the effort it would take to change our clothes and change our Saturday, we would be there for our friends.