Anyway, it was gorgeous and heartfelt. I thought later that maybe I felt "Max" in the room... like he was there, watching over us, but it's not something I usually believe. My thought is that people don't stick around on the earth immediately after they die... their souls have too much to do, departed loved ones to reconnect with, an afterlife to learn. The funeral is held so soon after death that it is really just a way for us "survivors" to hold each other and love each other through the pain. So maybe it wasn't so much "Max" in there with us as our collective memories and love for him, stitching us together, the quilt of his life.
Over the week, Raf did what he does best: take care of business. In the midst of it, though, he would remember, in fits and starts, that all of this was for Max. Unbelievable, he kept saying to me. I can't get used to it.When we arrived at the beach house, I was worried about going into the bedroom where Max had died, even though the bed was dismantled immediately and is gone (his mother has it). But when I walked in, his friends were gathered in the corner with a big ol' bud, rolling, and soon the place smelled like Amsterdam, sweet and herbal. It was kind of like the Native American ritual of "smudging," in which you exorcise evil spirits by burning sage. Only it made everyone happier, dreamier, hungrier, more able to enjoy the beautiful day outside the beach house windows.
I'm not saying it was easy. I'm only saying it was beautiful, which felt appropriate.
On the way home, I asked the girls how they were doing, if they had a good time. Serena, barely still awake, sand in her hair, clothes still damp from tumbling in the tide with her sisters and cousin, said, "It was the best worst day ever." And it was.