I know that this is nothing new. But they still are. When I was younger, I always thought that the older I would get, the easier they would be. Not true.
Pete's Uncle Tom died last Friday. Probably a heart attack. He was only 59 (I believe). He was the pastor at Sacred Heart church in Du Quoin, IL. The parish secretary brought the mail into the rectory Friday morning and found him there on the floor.
What a rough story. The funerals this past Sunday and Monday were rough, too. We started in Du Quoin, with an hour-long visitation, then a mass. The whole family went out to lunch afterwards, and then we high-tailed it down to Cairo as fast as possible to meet the hearse and have the three-hour visitation in Cairo (where Tom was born). We said the rosary there. I can't even remember the last time I said the rosary. According to the brothers Wissinger, the rosary is said at many visitations in Cairo, but I had never heard of that. I thought that was interesting.
The next morning, there was another visitation from 9-11 in the Cairo church, and then a mass. A huge mass. It was actually very, very inspiring. Since Tom was a priest, there were about 40ish other priests from the Belleville diocese. It was very powerful to see all of them up on the altar, quietly reciting the words that the speaking priest was saying. And then they all sang a final blessing song in Latin, which just sounded amazing.
Then: the burial. I had been to the cemetary outside of Cairo once before, when Pete's Uncle Leo died last spring. I'm actually very fascinated by this cemetary. I've only lost one other relative- my grandpa, last summer - and since he had served in World War II, he was buried in the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetary. THAT was cool, actually. He died in August 2008 but he was cremated, so we did not actually have a burial ceremony until the day after Christmas 2008. He was placed in a columbarium, which is a housing center for human ashes. At the burial ceremony, there were soldiers present who did the shooting thing (I feel horrible for not knowing what it's called but I don't remember) that honors a past soldier.
Anyway - enough about that. This weekend, Tom was buried in the cemetary where his parents were buried. I just think that is so cool. Like I said, no one else in my family has died except grandpa. I've never really spent time in cemetaries. I find the whole "family plot" really interesting. Tom could have been buried in the Stout plot, or where the rest of the priests are buried. It was very powerful being with the other Stouts, the ones I never had the pleasure of meeting, while their son was joining them.
Anyways. I know this post isn't exactly "happy" by any means. But as the cliche goes, death is a part of life. And even though I dread funerals, for anyone, I found this whole experience very powerful. There was just something about all the priests that were there. What a joy.
On another note, I was really, really proud of Pete this weekend. He, along with twin brother Steve and older brother Mike, and other relatives, were asked to be pallbearers. Which is just hard - physically and emotionally. As we pulled up to the cemetary, Pete and Steve jumped out of the car and brought the casket to the burial site. I watched from far away and caught Pete's eye...and all of a sudden, all of this pride welled up in my heart. He was carrying his uncle. I've never done that. I don't know if I would be strong enough (again, physically and mentally) to do that. And I was so proud of him.
It was a hard weekend. But I'm so glad I was able to be there for the family. And it was great seeing people I only see every couple of months, even though it was for a sad occasion.