Thursday, May 7, 2009

just enough is plenty, part two


Last Sunday, May 3rd, was the day of Emily's memorial. The weather cooperated, and we had a lovely day for it, sunny with some clouds, and mildly warm. I went out to Uisge Ban Falls Provincial Park early, around 1, and started setting up. On a picnic table I arranged a vase of daffodils, a guestbook to be signed and sent to her family, and an old peanut-butter bucket modified to take the Free-Will Offering. (Meaning, I cleaned it, labelled it, and cut a hole in the top.) The money collected will be donated to the Every Woman's Center in Sydney.

People began to gather, although there were also plenty of people coming out to hike in the park, so I was never sure if a car rolling in contained people there for the ceremony, or not. However, by the time 2:30 came around, a crowd of fifty-two people milled about, talking to one another. Some sat at the picnic table and wrote in the guestbook. I went around with the seed packets (see above photo) and the programs, greeting people and telling them I was glad to see them there.

2:40: I cleared my throat and spoke up above everyone. "May I have your attention please?" Then I directed everyone to a little clearing just off the parking area, and asked them to arrange themselves in a circle. I joined them and had a split-second of waiting for it to start, before remembering that, hey, it's ME who starts this one! It's ME who welcomes everyone and gets things going. So, I did.

Reverend Lloyd Murdock was up first. He was dressed in dark-blue robes, with a long shawl in a blue and green tartan, and a heavy silver Celtic cross around his neck. He read some parts of scripture, including the piece from Ecclesiastes, "To everything there is a season," and led us in a Christian prayer.

Then two singers from the local ecumenical choir sang a hymn, "Here I Am Lord." Then myself and another woman read out three pieces which Emily's family had written in her memory. (Her family lives on the West Coast and wasn't able to be here at this service.) Annie, her mother, had written about Emily's birth and toddler-hood. Rick and Betty, Emily's father and stepmother, wrote a poem where the recurring line was "We can't cry hard enough." Juniper, Emily's half-sister, wrote a little letter to Emily, saying how much she missed her.

Then we opened up the circle to anyone who wanted to speak, to share memories. One person spoke, then another, then another. There were six in all who braved it. The rest listened respectfully. One man of Mi'kmaq heritage sang two healing songs of his tradition. Another man, a blues musician, pulled a harmonica from his pocket and played an impromptu lament. All who spoke talked of Emily's beautiful smile, and of her even-more-beautiful soul. She was a nurturer, a gardener, who nurtured others and was just beginning to nurture herself.

We planted the trees last. Mike, a dear friend of Emily's and now of mine, silently and determinedly dug a small hole, thenwe planted the bare-root white pine sapling. I had brought some compost mix to fertilize it, so we tucked some of that around it, packed down the earth and watered the tree. The man who had sung the Mi'kmaq songs blessed the tree with tobacco, and laid some rocks around it. Others brought little polished stones or shells. Then we got out the dibble and planted the twenty-five spruce seedlings.

Eventually it was just me and Mum and a few others left. I sat at the picnic table and let out a long sigh. Now, I could relax, and I could let it all sink in. And to be honest, it is still sinking in. I am so grateful that I was able to do this, and that everyone took part, and that Emily touched our lives even as briefly as she did. But I think I'm still too close to it to really know what it means for me.

However, I do know that it turned out, as I knew it would, that "just enough" WAS plenty. Fancy that.

Below: Emily's white pine tree.

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