For those who noticed the lack of posts on this blog for the last week, I have been out of state for the funeral of my sister-in-law, Char Taylor.  Char passed after five difficult months following complications of surgery.  Finally at home in Green Valley, Arizona under the care of hospice, she passed quietly with her husband and three adult children with her.

A dozen of us from Minnesota and two more from Iowa (Char’s siblings, their spouses, and Char’s nieces and nephews) gathered in the Tucson area for a long weekend in a bittersweet family reunion centered around Char’s funeral.  Author Elaine Pagels wrote the following in her book Beyond Belief, which seems apropos:

—the soaring harmonies of the choir singing with the congregation; and the priest, a woman in bright gold and white vestments, proclaiming the prayers in a clear, resonant voice.  As I stood watching, a thought came to me: Here is a family that knows how to face death.

Here was a place to weep … here was a community that had gathered to sing, to celebrate, to acknowledge common needs, and to deal with what we cannot control or imagine.  Yet the celebration in progress spoke of hope; perhaps that is what made the presence of death bearable.

Rest in peace, Char.  We will miss you.