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I attended a reposal on Friday. In Ireland, a reposal is a time when you visit the house where the body of a recently deceased person is lying in state, to view the body and offer condolences to their loved ones. As the house was on a narrow road, a shuttle ferried visitors from a car park on the main road, taking a dozen at a time. Some of us stood, swaying on our heels, as the van wound around the snowy hills. The fields glowed, illuminated by a full moon.

I thought of California, warm and dry last September. We were winding along the scrubby hills of San Diego, en route to the funeral home. Uncle had asked for help with the service arrangements for Dad's funeral, saying, "We don't know how to bury the dead the Western way." Later, on the day of the funeral, kin, adopted kin, and friends arrived at the house. They brought steamed buns and sweet rice wrapped in banana leaves, to pack into lunch bags for mourners. Gathering around us, they chatted about the house, my mother's feelings, how much I've changed since they last saw me. I had not seen them in decades. You have children, a-na?

At that time, I felt the distance of 5,000 miles, but in the van creaking in a similar but different landscape, among the friends and acquaintances bringing condolences and company on a cold night, I felt a spark of recognition and connection. The community of sympathy.


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