I was scared as I entered the parlor
only a child of eight.
A house call with mom for the last visit
with my forever-gone uncle
my dear Uncle Nate.
His heart stopped cold at age 102
now we would pay tribute
the way people do.
Mounds of pastrami, pickles and bread
pastries and red punch
so well were we fed.
Egg salad and tuna
bagels and lox
chocolate candy for all in a big two-pound box.
His daughter was crying
but laughter was heard
some story told by a man with a white scraggly beard.
How can laughter and tears
hold hands like mates
how can grieving be honored with big heaping plates.
I was so confused to be in that place
when I was a kid in a grown-up space.
People were laughing at stories through tears.
Some said it is fine – he had enough years.
Others said they wished he had more
it is never enough for someone you adore.
I ate a cookie and shook my head
I didn’t understand a party for the dead.
But it wasn’t creepy and I had a good time.
I think Uncle Nate would have smiled and said it was fine.
As for me, I thought it just wasn’t fair —
the guest of honor was missing,
I wanted him there.