After the tears were shed and my sweetheart’s wife’s ashes were put to rest, the mourning party gathered in a restaurant, yesterday.
Except for three life-long friends of my sweetheart, everbody else present were family and friends of his late wife. Apart from his pals, I’ve only ever met his sister-in-law, her son and his girlfriend before. As they, together with my sweetheart, obviously formed the head of the table, I sat at the far end of the room, spending the afternoon with complete strangers.
I left in the evening with new aquaintances, maybe some new friends and at least one fan. As at first, the atmosphere at such events is often a bit awkward, especially if strangers are strewn among families, I just did, what I considered my duty: converse with those around me. Show interest in who they are and what they do. Enquire about their personal reason to attend this sad occasion. The works.
Thus, I met a colleague and friend of the deceased, who worked all her life in nuklear diagnosis, which, as far as I understood, is a special way of depicting illnesses with the use of certain radiant chemicals, comparable to MRIs. The Lady sat right next to me and at first gave the impression of being utterly forlorn in this group. Not for long, and I had her spill out the short version of her life story and all the memories she has of the times spent with my sweetheart’s wife, for all to hear. Next another woman, more my age, swapped her seat to sit opposite me and we got started on her life. Same routine. Turns out, she was a child speaker for audio dramas way back when in former East Germany, later a prompter for East German TV, which made her want to become a professional speaker or actor. But as life sometimes goes, a marriage, kids and so on, stood in the way. After the wall came down and the kids were a bit older, she retrained to become a physiotherapist. But the real interesting thing was learning, that she is an enthusiastic amateur photographer and cat lover. Next came her brother with his wife and kids, then their parents. All with their personal stories.
In the end I got the impression, that my sweetheart, with the help of his friends, entertained two thirds of the party on one end and I was in charge of the one third on the other side. No wonder, he is held in such high regard by all the family members and friends of his late wife, as he really is the only one to stand out with his personality. Given the fact, that he has separated from her more than twenty years ago and hasn’t met most of the people present yesterday during the last 20 to 30 years, it was surprising to see, how they still flocked around him. One might even say, flocked around him in awe. And with so much sympathy.
Recapping the day’s events on our way home, my sweetheart thanked me for helping him out with looking after the people present. We both came to the conclusion, that the entire family is very shy, even withdrawn a little, and are maybe not used to conversing openly and freely. Might be, that they don’t meet many new people or else, they are not comfortable with company outwith their daily routines. Who knows.
At any rate, albeit it took some work and energy to get these people talking – or maybe because of it – there were rewards. I met nice, new people, learned a lot about their personal stories and came away with the feeling, that they would enjoy to see me again, despite the weird constellation. My sweetheart came away from this originally sad occasion with a renewed sense of family-connection. He also mentioned, that the day went very much in a way, his late wife would have wanted it to be. And that now he was ready for getting on with life.