My Godfather is a French-Canadian Roman Catholic priest. That’s quite a mouthful but he left his rich, First World past behind to work in India at a grassroots level. When I say rich, I mean his parents were some sorta hotshots in Montreal and he left knowing that he was the eldest son and was in for some big inheritance. I admire him cause he’s quirky. He does things with a twist that would make the church declare that he would go to hell. I guess that’s why we have him around so often. We usually call him in when there’s a big event or special occasion.
He’s the kind of person who would pick the passage in the Bible about Jesus saying marriage is too damn difficult and only a person with real guts or brain fever will get into it knowing its terror. Obviously not an exact quote but you get what I’m trying to say right? He would pick controversial readings (well to the event being celebrated anyway) and then read it out loud to everyone – make everyone squirm in their chairs. I think my dad secretly invites him around to piss off my overly religious aunts & uncles.
When we were younger we used to laugh at his accent – how he would say “Farter” instead of “Father” but as we grew up we’d place bets on who would cry or squirm first. Fr. John, that’s his name, had a knack for reducing even the most manly men into tears. He would first read something that would completely shake us from the mood we’d come to party in and then get us to share how we felt about such and such – topics we’d shut up about before and feelings we’d caged inside. Last evening we wanted to come together as a huge family to say goodbye to my sister. She leaves to England for a year for her masters. And till then the reality of her leaving was something we masked.
So as his usual quirky self he picked up and read about Jesus ignoring his mum who was waiting outside and saying ‘who is my family?’. I started giggling cause here we were thinking emotional things about ‘family’ in a way that would make Don Corleone proud and here he was trying to shake the table a bit.
Obviously there were tearworks and the whole shebang but something hit me real hard. So often when we know it’s time for goodbyes, we think about how this is the “last” time we walk this street, eat this food, sit around with family (etc etc) for a long, long time. And of course such thoughts lead you to be depressed and chokes you till you have to take deep gasps to get enough air to cover the hole the person will leave in your heart when they go. You can’t deny that when they’re gone, you don’t just feel their absence – the whole place changes. Even though it’s the same place, it’s just not the same without them.
No matter how much time you have, you can never say the perfect goodbye. Goodbyes are futures. Right here and right now, I still have you. Too often we get into missing someone even before they have left. We forget that today, I still have reason to celebrate – you are still here and for that much longer, I can hold on to the magic of breathing the same air as you. You know what I mean?
I love Halloween and being in India we don’t get to celebrate it but when I was younger, I wanted to do something so I made invites and slipped it into my siblings doors. When my parents were asleep, they would sneak into my room in horrendous, home-made costumes and we’d sit around a single candle light and laugh till our bad make up would run. I once carved out a watermelon and put it on my head and pretended to be Mojo Jojo! We would share a drink (or a soda) and pass “junk food” around. We’d get such a thrill from doing something under our parents nose.
It became a ritual.
I know it’s September but tonight, I’m going to celebrate having “now” by wearing a geeky costume and making a fool of myself. It’s the little things right?