What does one wear to a wake in the summer?

That was the question I was pondering over as I stood in front of my closet this morning. What is an appropriate outfit to wear when paying your respects to a family going through an awful time?

What an insignificant problem to have, worrying over what to wear. As I sit here, I am thinking about my boss. Thinking about the range of emotions he must be going through. Welcoming the birth of his beautiful daughter and suddenly saying goodbye to his older brother in the same week. I can’t comprehend it.

To say that tonight will be hard for me is unfair. It’s not me that is mourning the loss of someone I love. But attending a wake always brings me back to the same place, my grandmother’s funeral. While most of the day is a blur–the drive to the cemetery, the service, the eulogy–the memory of walking through the chapel doors and into the sun is crystal clear. That was the moment her death finally hit me. Momentarily alone with no one to hug me, I fought back my emotions until someone was there. Only then did I collapse.

A few years ago I attended a wake for the father of an acquaintance with Michael and some friends. We sat in the back, the soft light reflecting off the brass buttons on the boys’ dress uniforms. I held it together until the family filed in. Then I cried. I cried because I remembered what it was like to lose someone.

Maybe it’s selfish, but tonight I will cry. I will cry for my boss, for life lost and for lives left behind.

But I will also cry for me.

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