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A year ago today, the father-in-law passed away.

This morning we groggily gathered in the kitchen. The mother-in-law’s sister joined us, bringing still-warm scones baked by her daughter. We watched a livestream of the memorial mass, filmed in the church less than a five-minute walk away. In front of empty pews, the priest carried on with rites sans acolytes, switching on pre-recorded hymns with a remote control. Afterwards we ate the scones with tea, butter, and plum jam from an auntie. Flowers arrived: peonies, resplendent in the dimness, ordered from Wales. Time is out of sync; grief feels fresh as on that hot day in the car, following a hearse heading homeward from Dublin.

The peonies recalled part of a poem by John Keats, “Ode on Melancholy”: “But when the melancholy fit shall fall/Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud … /Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose, or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave, or on the wealth of globed peonies…” Peonies, prayers, scones: comforts in small but necessary parcels.


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