Today was Rosalee's funeral.
I was doing really well holding it together as I spoke to her sisters, her mom, and those theatre friends who attended the service. It wasn't until after the priest blessed her coffin and the pall was placed over the coffin (it was light blue and silver) and we pall bearers placed our hands on it to guide it up the aisle of the church. I swear I tried to hold back the tears. I admit I failed. The others were stoic. I cried like a girl.
The service itself is a bit of a blur. Rosalee kept telling me she was Unitarian the last time I saw her but this was a Catholic Mass. In his homily, the priest said that when he visited Rosalee on the Monday before she passed that she "blessed" herself. He was making a statement about going home to God.
It's not the first Catholic funeral I've been to but it is the first where Communion was served. The priest allowed non-Catholics to approach, arms crossed over their chest, for a blessing in lieu of taking the Host. I was surprised somewhat to see several people approach with their arms crossed. One was one of Rosalee's sisters.
I admit to wanting to laugh during the service. I'm not Catholic and don't understand the significance of certain acts - such as the ringing of a bell - and such. I'm sure it means something to those of that faith. But it dawned on me that Rosalee would have loved it....the man in a dress, the ringing of bells, the singing of songs...it was pure theater. At the cemetery, Tim, a theater friend, said "She should have been sitting in the back with us, making snarky comments and laughing." He was so right. I thought the same from the front pew.
Her son - who was about 13 when I met his mom - gave the eulogy and he did her proud. It was beautiful to see him all grown up and handsome. It also made me aware of my age and my own mortality.
The drive from the church to the cemetery was long and a bit out of the way. We passed another Catholic church and two cemeteries on the way. The rent-a-cops did an outstanding job since we took three freeways. I told one of them (not the cute one) and he thanked me.
I was a bit surprised to find out that Rosalee is interred in a vault. I'm not sure if that's a family thing or one of her wishes not to be buried in the ground. Just after the priest finished with the service and the representative from the mortuary spoke, the nephew of Rosalee's son sang "What a Wonderful World" in a pure boy soprano voice. It was certainly the fitting conclusion to celebrate Rosalee's life.
After that everyone drove back to the church for a reception. I'd taken a few pictures from our tribute table at the theater and some personal performance pictures of Rosalee and laid them with the other pictures her sister had put together. I could hear people exclaiming over them, especially the few other theater people who endured the long day.
I don't want to make this about me...but I've had a very difficult time with this. Her sister told me that my name was first on the list to call. Mine was the first name to come up in pall bearer consideration. That made me proud. I told her sisters, son, husband, and parents that it was an honor to be included.
Rosalee's best friend told me that it was fitting to see me carry Rosalee to her final resting place. She shared that Rosalee had told her that she loved going out with me because if she couldn't go on, I would carry her home.
And so I have.