Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Midwife of Souls and Chocolate Cake

Today the Punk Pastor is doing his first funeral. It has been a long week for him of bedside watching and praying. Pastors are among the few people in our society who actually confront death on a regular basis. It puts them face to face with their own mortality. "Remember Pr. S-- (a seminary professor), how calm and self-contained he was, like nothing could shake him?" he said, returning from the hospital earlier this week. "It was thirty years of this. Of watching other people die and dealing with the details of his own mortality." Needless to say, the man needed some space.

Yesterday, I found suddenly that I was the pastor's wife, not just my husband's wife. I was leading a Cub Scout meeting. The kids and I had volunteered to run a booth with some other homeschoolers at a fall festival today. The shopping hadn't been done yet, since the Scientist needed the doctor yesterday, and the pantry was bare. I took calls from the funeral home. How many pallbearers are there? Can we come set up at 8:30 in the morning? Has the pastor received a copy of the obituary?

And in the midst of this, the ladies of the church called and asked if I could bring a dessert of salad for the funeral lunch. I'm not by nature a seamlessly organized person. A day like that would ordinarily send me into a tailspin. But I was calm as a summer's day. It must have been grace. I thought, if I grab something easy to make while I'm at the grocery store, I can get it ready this evening after Scouts and it will be ready for tomorrow. And I said yes. And somehow, in between things, I popped a cake into the oven. I went to Scouts. I came home, stacked the layers, and warmed up leftovers for dinner. I put the Cookie Mouse to bed and frosted it. And the I went to the funeral home for visitation.

The family is all here from out of state, four siblings, of this dear lady, and their spouses. There were two more who were unable to come. She had been the eldest and had raised them all when their mother died. It's funny the details you learn about people after they die, the big picture you get of their lives, things no one ever mentioned when they were living, that just don't come up in conversation. They were all so warm. They seemed so glad that I had come. I thought as I left the funeral home that it was sad that the only reason I was meeting them was because someone they loved had died, and that they would all go home and I would probably never meet them again.

I came home and folded bulletins -- church bulletins and funeral bulletins -- while sitting in bed with the Punk Pastor watching As Time Goes By.

And today is the funeral. Two funerals, actually. Another lady passed away the same day, not a member of our church, but the mother of one of our parishioners. So while the kids and I are stuffing scarecrows in the Land of Oz, the Punk Pastor will be attending one funeral and preaching another. It's like a meatball sandwich. You'll have to read the Forum Letter to understand that one.

And in the spirit of a meatball sandwich, here is the world's easiest and most delicious chocolate cake, the one the Scientist made for her tea party last week, the one the Swordmaster will make for the Cub Scout cake auction next week, the one I made for the funeral lunch today.

+In memoriam L.P.A.W. +

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