My daughter and I waited behind the last pew, while a small sect from the bell choir chimed with each name called. Families and friends who submitted names, stood when their deceased was called and joined the moving line. Pastor Jen Strickland and Pastor Jacob Buchholz took turns reading names that were once said daily, but through their passings, would not be heard often. And one by one the hurting people walked down the center isle and plunked a small blue-glass stone into a translucent vase of water.
The surnames were alphabetical. Renee and my mother would not be far apart from one another. I squatted and whispered to my daughter that it was a special day when we remember her aunt and grandma, knowing that her understanding of them came mostly from pictures and stories. Julius, who is filled with direct memories of them stayed in the pew with Lilac and his aide. I pointed to the names on the list for my daughter to follow along and when it was time, I stood, took her hand and we began our calm decent. The atmosphere was meditative, the bells chimed softly one at a time. The clunk of stone into water resonated in the air and our line of quiet people stepped forward down the center isle with wet eyes and heavy hearts. My daughter noticed how the eyes of people in the pews followed her as we passed. Then she looked up at me and asked, "Mamma, are we dead?"