Some days I wake up with a sort of reasonless melancholy. I think we all do.
For me, it is often the letdown from an especially wonderful time, as we have had in the last several weeks. John’s mom has been here for a simply spectacular visit; we’ve had a sumptuous and extravagant Thanksgiving dinner surrounded by many of our dearest friends.
Avery’s school musical, “Les Miserables,” whose preparation and drama have occupied our household for months, has come and gone, a glorious spectacle far beyond anything you could dream of for a “school play.”
This morning, with John’s mother back in Iowa, and John and Avery gone on their various ways, I felt unaccountably sad. The Christmas tree is up and sparkling, which should have made me happy.
So it was all to the good that I had to get on my bicycle and head to the church. To ring for a funeral.
We all, eight of us, gathered in the bellchamber, cheerful and quotidien, discussing plans for the week, children coming home from university, ordinary bits of conversation, in contrast to the quiet mourners gathering in the church.
Then we rang, the bells half-muffled, which produces a sound I can’t fully describe. One stroke is clear — well, clear as a bell, actually –clear, gracious and true — and the next is shadowy, really more an echo than a true sound, but exactly reminiscent of the clear stroke before.
Then we stood in silence as the casket was brought in. She was a lady in her 50s, having married rather late in life and so, left behind teenage children, walking behind the casket in dark clothes. The church was full. The piano began to play, and we ringers left the bellchamber quietly, emerging into the glorious December sunshine.
My ringing friend Teresa and I stood for a moment, making our plans to gather again this evening to ring for a charity Carol Concert to benefit my social work organisation. We talked for a bit about wishes for our own funerals, and about our daughters who would not be ready today to say goodbye to us. “Aren’t we lucky, to come out of the church into this lovely day,” Teresa said, and we looked at each other with so much unspoken, and rode away on our bicycles.
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