I’ve just returned from a mass in Magdalene’s memory. It was the regular Wednesday evening mass, which I never attend, but of course this time I did. In the front, just below the alter, was this picture of her—so beautiful, young, vibrant—so full of promise. It was taken 2 years ago, the last time Judy came here. We made it a point that summer to take a picture of each child with the 2 of us
You can see that I just cropped Judy and me out of the picture. What was left of a great portrait of Maggy, as they sometimes called her.
Seeing that picture on a small table with a candle burning beside it truly undid me. I hadn’t cried for her yet. When Julia and I were in the hospital and got the news I was so concerned about Julia I didn’t really acknowledge my own sense of loss. But there in the quiet of the church it really hit me. I haven’t been this sad since Jim died.
Tomorrow is the funeral mass and burial. I just hope I can hold it together through all of that.
More of the kids came today, Tylon from Archbishop Ndingi, Evelyn, Tabitha, Beatrice and Joyce from SFG. Later I’ll share dinner with all of them, but for now, Julia is attending another planning meeting, this time about tomorrow’s program. Every night for the past 5 days, people have met, first to accept donations to cover the cost of hospitalization for 5 weeks, and also for the costs of the funeral and burial, then to plan.
That’s how they do it here when someone dies. Those closest to the deceased gather funds. People have been very generous. Not only was Magdalene beloved, but also people understand the grandparents have nothing. The practice is to bury a family member in the land if they have any, but the grandparents have none. She will rest in the city cemetery, where she will join Queen who died 5 or 6 years ago. Queen had been born HIV positive. She hated taking the ARV (anti-retroviral) drugs and eventually refused them. She didn’t last long after that. Her picture is in the dining hall. The one of Magdalene will join it there, atop a cabinet.
Sorry this is such a downer, but I just needed to write this to move on. I promise to be cheerier once this is past. Sigh.