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January 07, 2010

It's only a problem some days.

Caitlyn's school is in a room in the lower level of a Catholic school attached to a church. St. Joe's has a lovely big white building, and if we get close enough, soon enough, we often get to listen to the bells tolling noon. Last year, we watched the lengthy process of stained glass window restoration/installation.

But sometimes when we walk past the church to school, we walk past a bit of church life. If people would get married or christened at noon on a weekday, it wouldn't be such a big deal, but weekdays at noon seem to be reserved for people who die. And walking by a Big Catholic Funeral - with priests in matching robes, incense burners, large hearse, coffin, and processing kin - seems to be something I have trouble with. Even with the warning of the slowly tolling bell, twenty minutes after noon when bells shouldn't be ringing, I get choked up and clingy.

It makes no sense. I'm not Catholic. I wasn't raised Catholic. These services and rites have nothing in common with Dad's memorial. If anything, it should feel like I've stumbled upon a movie set. But I can't quite breathe.

We walked around, crossing to the other side of the street so Caitlyn and her classmate George didn't accidentally race each other through the grieving crowd. There were small children near the hearse, being urged forward or comforted by a woman not that much older than myself. Were they saying goodbye to a father or grandfather? I picked Caitlyn up (40 pounds these days) and asked for a hug.

"Why are you crying?" she asked. I told her that the funeral made me think of Grandpa Jim.

"I remember him, too," she tells me and squeezes me back.

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