Monday, February 28, 2011

At My Mother's Funeral ...

… I learned that you never really know a person. Not completely.

You may have a life-long relationship, more than half a century, but you still only see one facet of the whole. Someone else remembers a buddy from high school, the kid next door, the person my father dated, an older sister, an old woman who needed help getting to the bathroom, a face at the beauty parlor, a fellow member of the Bible Study group, somebody to laugh with while the kids (me) played downstairs, and dozens of other people -- most of whom I had never met, but who nonetheless were (somehow) the same person as my mother.

After you talk to enough of your fellow mourners, you start to wonder about all the people who couldn't be here, the ones already gone. Her parents and teachers, bosses and supervisors, the staff and other patients when she was a teen-ager in a hospital far from home. And all the people who never even came up in conversation, the ones who (if they could talk to me) would have to tell a long story before I even knew who they had been.

Human beings are big. They're so big that in 54 years you can't wrap your mind around even one.