I had been zooming around for about and hour and a half when I decided to stand up a little taller and start bellowing. My mom turned around from the booth where she was sitting, first with a look of “What?” Followed almost immediately by “of course.”

I don’t plan these things, I just know that I can do them.

I stood up there surrounded by people I’ve know off and on my whole life. People who I really hoped would be there, people who were a delightful surprise, and people I trusted would show because they know how much I need them. My mom had the same experience. They loved us, they loved my dad, they knew I needed a hug.

I thanked them for coming because it was such short notice, because it was all Facebook and text message and rumor. It helped me feel connected and anchored in time and space. I tried to talk to everybody (maybe 50 people total) but missed people, I tried to collect hugs as often as I could. I cheek kissed two dozen people for sure.

There was pizza and beer, introductions and moments where different segments of my life crossed over and got along famously. There was the moment where my first MIL met the editor of a book her son is in … that she doesn’t have a copy of because I can be a ding dong from time to time.

I couldn’t say thank you enough last night, and I can’t stop thinking of tiny details now. It was a good night. It reminded me of other good nights in pop-up communities with a single common thread.

I think the social norms of death are shifting. It is one thing when every generation lives in town and there is a religious structure to the service. It is different when people move (my brother and I have tribes of folks in multiple places, and my parents have multiple tribes as well) and memorial planning starts with “So, what do you want to do?” When all of the conversations about music and speakers come home to roost because there is a date for the service, a time, a need for … whatever it is you need.

What holds together is the web of people who share time and hugs.

I am going to be grateful for last night for the rest of my life.

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