I always feel more comfortable at a wake if I have something that I can drink. I don't know why this is. Sometimes I think it's a little bit bizarre, but if I have something that I can just drink it does something to ease my nervousness.
When I walked into the funeral home last night for my aunt Gail's wake... I realized I didn't have a drink with me. I thought that I would be OK, that I wouldn't need it, that I'd just get one later. Then I went and paid my respects, said good-bye to the aunt who gave me possibly one of the greatest pieces of advice I was ever given, and knew. I would need a drink or I would just pace, fidget, and feel uneasy. Since my husband is amazing, when I asked if he had any money on him he immediately headed out to the store and came back with two options for me - a diet Pepsi and a diet A&W root beer.
I took the root beer.
A few minutes later while I was chatting with someone, my stepsister Michelle came over to me and looked at my drink. "Oh man! I looked over here quick and thought you were drinking a beer! It wasn't until I saw that price sticker that I realized it wasn't." We laughed about it - because it would be pretty funny to have someone at a wake openly drinking a beer.
Not long after that my uncle came in, looked at me, and started laughing. "Oh man! I thought that was a Bud bottle you were holding. I was going to ask you for some." Michelle laughed and said, "I JUST said the same thing!"
Steve took this opportunity to make a joke of the situation. He took out his keys, put one of them to the label, pulled off the label and took the price sticker off the bottle. "There! And don't give me a hard time about it (after I started to protest) - you KNOW for a fact that Gail would be getting a huge kick out of this. IN FACT - she probably would have been the one to take the label off in the first place!"
And - it's true. Gail knew how to laugh at a good joke, and usually had one ready with perfect timing. She saw the humor in just about every situation. It was weird to be at her wake and funeral and not have her nearby to make a wisecrack about something going on; she loved to lighten the mood.
When I heard that she died, I knew it was time to take her advice and not be angry forever. God had been working on the things that she and I talked about a few years ago ever since our talk, and the words that she spoke to me that night were at the front of my mind this week as I let go of the anger on my heart. Steve told me she would be glad for this, and I know that wherever she is now that she probably is. She was an amazing aunt, a wise woman who knew how to talk from her heart and give advice from her own experiences.
I also know that she would have laughed and egged Steve on as he tore that label off my bottle last night... then made fun of me when I protested about it... and then she would have told everyone I was drinking a beer, I'm sure.
Gail - I toasted you with that root beer last night, and while I wish we could have spent more time together I cherish dearly the times that we could spend. May you rest in peace, and know that you were loved by a lot of people. I'll miss you.