Yessterday we buried my Aunt Bunny. After a two-day wake during which family and friends from came from far and wide to pay their respects, we gathered at St. Clare’s Church in Staten Island for the funeral mass, following which a caravan of cars followed the hearse to Resurrection Cemetary, where my aunt was buried alongside her husband (Uncle Blaise). While there, we visited the graves of my father and uncles Bob and Michael, all of whom are buried within about 100 feet of each other.
We then regrouped at the condo Aunt Bunny shared with Aunt Carol, my father’s other sister. Family and friends spent the whole day there, eating, drinking, talking, telling stories and just being together.
Later in the afternoon, someone brought out some games and several groups sat at various tables playing cards or scattegories or something else. At one point, Aunt Carol turned to me and said, somewhat troubled, “Why are we doing this? Look people are laughing and having a good time. How can we be doing this today?”
My answer was swift and firm: Because Aunt Bunny would have wanted this. Because she would have been happy to see all of us here together. Because she would have wanted us to celebrate and enjoy our love for her and each other. We are all deeply pained at the loss and we have all cried a lot over the last weeks, and especially the last few days. But she would not have wanted us to sit all day glum and silent; that would have done her no honor.
As I answered her, Aunt Carol nodded her head in agreement. She, who knew her sister better than anyone, knew that Aunt Bunny would have wanted exactly what went on yesterday: the family she loved gathered in love and enjoying each other’s company.