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 Sinclairification by Grant Sinclair

I Will Survive? 06 June 1999

06 Jun 2009

Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending a Mexican wedding.  Today I witnessed something I never thought I would see: A Mexican funeral mass.  It was held at 10:00 AM this morning at Santo Domingo.

For starters, I didn’t bring any clothes to wear to a funeral, and the only clean shirt I had, that was dark, is my navy blue New York Yankees shirt.  Simply, it is solid navy blue with the white NY logo on the left breast.  Also, I’m not from this town and I don’t know these people (I went to the funeral with my host father) so my clothing and the expression on my face exposed me for the gringo/yankee/honkee that I am.  During the service I caught a few people glancing at me, but they were there to pay respect to the deceased, not stare at the gringo.

The church was packed, wall to wall.  Judging strictly from attendance, these must have been some pretty popular people.

Three caskets were in front of the altar, surrounded by people dressed in what looked like paramedic’s uniforms.  They had white shirts, navy blue pants, certain patches and logos on the shirts, and later on they also served as pallbearers.  They surrounded the caskets as if they were guarding them, and they faced front the whole time.

The music was beautiful, and consisted of an organ and a three-piece string section, all violins.  Most of the music was in minor keys, as to be expected at a funeral, but I never heard “Amazing Grace”.  I don’t know if it is typical in all funerals, American funerals only, or if they played before we got there because we were a little late.  The song I heard on the radio in the car on the way to the funeral, however, was a Spanish cover of the old Motown hit “I Will Survive”. 

The mass was solely performed by members of the clergy, there were no lay people giving eulogies or participating from what I could tell.

The people were pretty much under control, sobbing quietly, hugging, etcetera.  I didn’t witness any outbursts of grief or anguish, and tantrums or illness, but again, we got there late.

The only time I really got to see more of the service was when I went up for communion.  It was then, as I walked past the closed caskets, flowers, grieving relatives and well wishers that I could smell the unmistakable smell of death mixed with the faint odor of tears.  Not the smell of bodies or corpses, but the smell of one hundred different things put together: incense, flowers, pain, all mixed with sadness as an indication that all is not right with these people and their world.
There is nothing like a funeral to remind us of our own mortality and, ultimately, our own uselessness.  As Indigo Girls’ Emily Sailers carefully pointed out in “Love’s Recovery”, “As specks of dust, we’re universal.”  Indeed we are.  We would all like to believe we have made some sort of awesome contribution to the well being of human kind, but in the grand scheme of things we don’t amount to much.

© 2009

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