I’m just feeling down today.
The memorial service for Elizabeth was last night. We drove up from New York so that we could be back in time to make it there. It made for a long day, and a lot of time in the car. Poor Phoebe was not happy to have to get back in the car after only an hour back home, following close to 5 hours in the car. John ended up needing to take Phoebe out to the vestibule before the service began, as we were heading into a meltdown.
It was a nice service, if long. It was the first time I’ve been in a temple, as far as I can remember. I haven’t been to many religious ceremonies at all, and felt a bit like a visiting anthropologist. (I feel much the same way when I’ve been in a church.) I appreciated the ritual and the music. Though I did find myself craving to hear more about my friend. There was a 3-page paper of thoughts about Elizabeth from her family, but I found I couldn’t read it there without risk of excessive blubbering. The service included some words from a college friend of Elizabeth’s, and a poem written and read by her aunt. I found the poem particulary moving, as it spoke of the Elizabeth I knew. Her wit, her quirks and her complexity.
Some of my other friends who also used to work with Elizabeth also went, and I was glad to see them, and to be able to sit with them during the service. A couple more friends couldn’t make it, due to travelling for Thanksgiving.
There were a lot of people there, overall. It was moving in some ways. But in other ways it made me feel small and insignificant. I felt an outsider. I was glad to meet some friends of Elizabeth’s whose names I had heard, but had never met. I saw her parents, met a sister-in-law. But mostly there was a crowd of strangers.
The friend who spoke said that Elizabeth made everyone she knew feel like they were her best friend. And for some reason, this made me feel sadder. I wonder how often people feel this way at memorial services. Peripheral. One of many. It made me feel a bit like I wanted to stake out my claim in the grief. Declare that I had known her for 12 years. Proclaim that I had shared in the pain of witnessing her illness. Announce that I felt her loss deeply.
At the same time, I feel like I didn’t do enough. Or maybe that I really was a bit of an outsider.
I feel bad that I didn’t visit her more often. I didn’t know about her other hospital stays till after the fact. But maybe I should have known. Maybe I should have called more. When I’d call she’d often be too tired to talk, or on her way out the door. So I didn’t call much. I took her to her chemo treatments twice, and would gladly have gone with her more. Maybe I should have offered more.
And I feel bad that I hadn’t told some friends about her illness. And I feel bad that I still haven’t contacted a couple of other friends I’ve lost track of.
Mostly I just feel bad today. And I find myself missing my friend all the more.
Is sulking a stage of grief? What about crabbiness?