All souls

They are at peace

She died on Sunday, after a month of dateless days that began on Halloween and ended just short of Thanksgiving. We went from the hospice admitting office to a Halloween party in the family room, where volunteers offered us fruit punch, orange cupcakes and orange and black balloons. Three toddlers in identical ladybug suits were dancing on the faux-parquet ballroom floor to the electrically amplified folk songs of a long-haired balladeer. It was 1960s fare, all about ghosts, hauntings and the headless wives of Henry VIII. No one in the subdued, receptive audience seemed to find the music in questionable taste; and my mother, more taken with the ladybugs than the music, politely kept the beat with her index finger. The next day I went to the mass for All Saints Day and heard a young African priest tell the small congregation of staff and patients what saints are like: not paragons of virtue, but ordinary people whose deepest longing is to see God.


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