Thursday, February 25, 2016
When the Obituary's
Not Quite Written Yet
Sometimes, genealogists like to brag about how they like dead people, but for me, today is not that day. A sobering bedside vigil at a hospital can cure one of such an obsession—at least for the time being.
We were surprised yesterday to realize that it's been three weeks since the beginning of what will likely be the final hospitalization of one of our good friends. In one way, it seems like we just heard the news yesterday. In another way, it has taken on the aura of one, long, endless day.
The visits to the hospital, at first to lend support to our friend, have morphed into lingering hours spent with family members. The talk has sometimes lapsed into silence, sometimes into whispered conversations better left to huddles out in the hallway...sometimes, circled around the bedside, broken into hymns...but definitely shifted from the kind of chatter one does to keep company to the reflective phrases shared quietly with those desperately seeking comfort. Sometimes, hugs alone will do where words fail. There has been a lot of holding each other up, lately.
An obituary found may become a prize to a thorough and persistent genealogist, but reading those words, "peacefully, surrounded by family and friends" is an entirely different matter when written about a long-departed ancestor than when it is being replicated in the present.
Above: "Past and Present Number Two," from the 1858 triptych by British artist Augustus Leopold Egg; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.