Thursday, September 1, 2011

a royal farewell to Anne (m)

When my friend Anne ("A") was diagnosed with cancer just over two years ago, she used to talk about her death in a somewhat glib way.  One summer evening in 2009 in Kennebunkport, we went to a nice shoe store after a wonderful dinner and Anne bought three pairs of pretty sandals.  "Put them in my coffin so I can take them with me," she said and laughed.

She envisioned a big, beautiful funeral.  "Big ass.  I want a huge funeral," is how she put it.

Well, she got her wish. 

The wake on Tuesday night was enormous.  At least 2,000 people.  If you don't believe me, ask my husband--the master of understatement.  He came up with the estimate.   The line to get into the funeral parlor was two hours deep from 2:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.  The cops managing the traffic were exhausted. 

The flowers were abundant and gorgeous despite the "in lieu of flowers" instructions to us all.  Anne liked flowers.  Anne got flowers.

The family ran a video of her life with photos of her with family and friends.  No matter what time period they chose or what the fashions were at the time, she looked beautiful.  I made a mental note to myself to start pulling photos of me --for when my time comes-- that would not be hideous.  It will be a short video.

The funeral on Wednesday was the like something out of a royal palace protocol book.  Bagpipe players honoring her Scottish/Irish heritage.  Four musicians and a soloist.  Standing room only.  Three busloads of boys from her younger son's class and football team.  Alumni from all over the country from her eldest son's prep school (Sam's class) and fraternity brothers from his college.  An exquisite eulogy by her brother-in-law who touched upon all the key themes and graciously thanked the doctors, friends, and hospice workers.  People dressed up big time for this sad occasion.

I wore a Steve Fabrikant knit dress that I bought in the Wrentham outlets' Off Fifth store five years ago.  It was $750 marked down to $149.  It didn't fit by a mile when I bought it but I loved the dress and stored it in my closet.  I had never worn it.  I tried it on and asked my husband--the master of understatement--how it looked.  "Good. No wait.  You look terrific, in fact." 

I guess the dress and I were waiting for a momentous occasion.  I wanted to look my very best for Anne.

The funeral procession took us up a beautiful hill to a brand-new cemetery that looked like a gorgeous field in the English countryside.  No headstones (only footers), stone gates and stone walls.   Even the weather was perfect.  Sunny, dry, not a cloud in the sky.

There, in a particularly beautiful spot, my friend was laid to rest. 

We all cried like babies.  Even the boys cried and hugged each other and their parents.  It was an outpouring of love for one of my all-time favorite people.

A group of us made a pact to come back to Anne's grave in the Fall and have a visit with her and give her "the scoop" about what's going on in our lives.  She loved hearing "the scoop" as she called it.  We will bring a picnic lunch and share our stories with her.  She will hear us, I'm convinced.

Anne's husband held a luncheon reception at their country club.  It was incredibly generous of him given 500 people showed up for it.

I visited with lots of friends and acquaintances and then went home.

I took to my bed at 4:30, exhausted by grief.

I miss her so much.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:12 AM EDT

    Read Annie Freeman's traveling funeral. You will laugh, cry, and want to share it with your friends.