I will not complain about the six hours in the car with an increasingly impatient ten-month-old. I will not complain about being late to the Feaste, nor will I brag about dressing in under eight minutes into full costume.
And I will not whine about the fact that my van decided to break down at the cemetery.
It was not a good day.
As always, though, Miles brought light to the darkest of days.
The immediate family had gathered at the grave site. In case you're unfamiliar with my mother's side of the family, that means that some forty or fifty people were trying to huddle under half of a ten foot by ten foot tent to hide from the scorching July sun. Every face held sorrow. There may have been many of us, but each of us held a special connection to this wonderful woman. Three were her daughters, holding each other as tears rolled openly down their faces. Three were her stepchildren, though she never treated them any differently than her biological ones. One sat with the other sisters, tears in her eyes as well. The other two, men raised to be tough, stood stoically, their pain reflected only in the firm set of their jaws and the way they occasionally squeezed the shoulders of their children. Countless numbers of us were grandchildren - steps or biological, some of us with spouses and children of our own - gathered to say good-bye to a woman who had redefined the definitions of the word "Grandmother" over and over again. A few were friends who had grown to become family through long years and shared tragedies. And one was her husband, a self-defined "old cowboy" who refused to look up for part of the service for fear that we may see the water welling up in his eyes.
And each of us was devastated by a loss we knew was coming. A loss we all knew was for the best. But, still, for each of us a loss that has changed us forever.
A preacher who had barely known her in life spoke in parables, trying to comfort people he would never know. Songs chosen by Grandma were played on a tiny CD player by a man from the funeral home. Illogically, I found myself wondering why he had chosen this line of work, and whether he found it rewarding, or heart-wrenching, or if, somehow, years of sorrow had dulled it to the point that death was merely business as usual.
In any case, when the CD began playing "Holes in the Floor of Heaven, " I was yanked out of my pondering, returned to the reality at hand, tearing up to realize that there were no raindrops in sight to prove the singer was right.
Instead, the wind began to blow. It started out as a soft breeze, cooling us from the all-consuming heat. Gradually, though, the wind gathered strength until the edges of the tent were flapping wildly.
In that moment, Miles turned his face to the wind, smiled, and waved good-bye, his tiny hand slowly rising upward as the wind began to fade away, just as suddenly as it had come. He turned to look at me, his face a question mark, wondering if I understood. To emphasize his point, he pointed to Courtney's orange armband, an homage to Grandma's favorite color, then turned his face to the wind again, and raised his hand high over his head, waving good-bye once more.
And I held him, and I smiled. Because my precious boy had shown us all the truth. Grandma is now in the warmth of the sun. When it rains, she will be there in the raindrops. And when the wind blows, she will be there, encouraging us to move forward.
As she always has.