30 Days of Souvenirs: Day 6

Everyone who showed up for my grandmothers funeral was required, or rather, 'asked, to wear a name tag. This way, family members could be identified for those who wished to share condolences, and out of town relatives could be recognized, or even avoided, by standoffish inlaws. Most of the somber folks who arrived wore somber expressions; perhaps it was the loss of a friend, or maybe the too-close-to-home-ness of the entire thing, for most who attended were in their late 80's and early 90's. One woman approached me and reaching out grasped my hands in hers. I could feel the bones of her hands through her loose skin, it was as if the body was already saying "one day, this will be a veil, and my breath will be a ghost moth invincible to all flames." She was from a bygone generation and she smelled like the rose shaped soap my grandmother kept in a crocheted swan in her bathroom and warm bread. I wanted to look for her name tag but was transfixed by the raw comfort I felt in her presence. There was something familiar about her. "Were you friends of my grandmothers?" I asked. "She was a kind lady, and she loved you very much." I leaned down and hugged the old woman. She moved toward the waiting room, hung her coat on the coat rack, and melted into the crowd of mourners. That evening when everyone had gone I helped the men stack chairs and gather up a few scattered programs that had been left behind. As I closed the door and turned towards the waiting room I noticed a single coat left on the coat rack. I walked over and picked it up. Again I was greeted by the smell of rose shaped soap and warm bread. I searched the pockets looking for a card, a wallet, something. The only thing I found, attached to the lapel, was a small name tag in bronze with simple letters that spelled out "Guest".

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