An Irish Funeral

July 11, 2010

I was in Ireland three days before I went to a funeral. My friend Felicity's mother, Frances McKevitt, who had been struggling for a long time with cancer and ataxia, passed away the day I arrived. She had been in a coma for two weeks and off life support for eight days. She was, needless to say, an extraordinarily strong woman. Although I hadn't met her, I went to the funeral in support of Maxwell and Felicity who are both amazing and lovely people.

When I'd arrived in Ireland my mother asked me if I'd brought a suit. "A suit? What would I need a suit for? I didn't even bring a button-down." Always listen to your mother. I woke up early the morning of the funeral and went into City Centre to Marks & Spencer, a very European clothing shop my manager had suggested. I found a form fitting black jacket and pants, but the cost was already running me over an unbudgeted 120 Euro. I had a black t-shirt and decent shoes and decided to make due. It was perhaps too "rock star" without a tie or button-down, but I hoped that my presence, on such short notice, would make up for it.

As I jumped in the cab requesting Foxrock Church, the driver asked if I was going to a wedding (damn, maybe should have bought the tie). "Unfortunately, quite the opposite." On the way down we talked about how much people were eating these days and the ever increasing portions at restaurants. He told me about some grossly overweight Texans that got in his cab and kept requesting to see the "real" Ireland. The driver merrily told me he obliged by dropped them at a well-known gay club. "I even waited around the corner to see their faces as they came out. I just couldn't resist!" He was a decent fellow and we talked cordially on the way down and wished each other well.

As I entered the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, I noted a sign that CCTV (security) cameras would be in use. The church itself was lovely and modest with mosaic tile spelling out sobering Latin phrases over the apse. Feclity's family had been going there for decades including weekly services, weddings, and funerals. Mr. and Mrs. McKevitt had been married in that church, as had their children and it was wonderful to think how this tied them to their community. The pews were appropriately penitent, having no proper backs to even lean against. I couldn't remember the last time I'd been to mass, but much of the phrases returned easily, having spent so many Saturdays and Sundays of my youth in rote recitation. The service was led by Felicity's uncle which made it very personal and was supplemented by The Decibels, a singing group that Mrs. McKevitt had formed in her youth that added beauty and reverence. Felicity's father spoke eloquently and with such passion, I found myself moved to tears although I hadn't met either one of them.

Afterward, we drove out to the cemetery which was morbidly picturesque. The trees and grass looked brilliantly vibrant against the grey Dublin day and black forms moving somberly across the grounds. As the priest said the final blessing, crows cawed in the distance and two tattered gravediggers lowered her into the ground. We sank our heads, silently paying our respects and headed back for the wake.