Sunday was All Saints Day. Similar to dios Los Muertos, it's a day to remember family members who have died....except that All Saint's Day is for those put to rest within the year and typically, there are no vibrant parties that take weeks of preparations. A year ago, last month, my mother and sister were buried in a shared grave. Last year, we dropped two stones into the church water for them on All Saints Day although I hadn't submitted their names in advance so they weren't read aloud. This year, I added my sister's and my mother's names to the list of "Saints" that would be read off during service. Saintly-hood is subjective. What is a saint after-all? Is everyone deserving of the title just because they lived, died and left who loved them- someone who added their name to the list?
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?"