- hogging a baby (did I say hogging? I meant hugging. I would never hog a baby. No, not me) whom I'd only seen in pictures up until now, and who was so absolutely good-natured about being passed around among cousins who couldn't wait to give him a squeeze
- cousins. So many cousins. 12 out of the 15 in my generation were there
- lots of reminiscing, lots of comfort carbs
- the chance to rib my dad about the very fashionable (in 1974) plaid sport coat he wore in one of the many old photos
- Snoopy, hand-me-downs, and good news about cousin John's cancer treatment using his own stem cells
- a phone call from a friend to find out how I was getting through the day--and to let me know that the Irish were winning the game
- and coming home to a lovely sympathy card that a teenager in the church folk group cared enough to send
After the Mass, we gathered outside the church while my aunt, who teaches her first-graders a fascinating science lesson each year using Monarch butterflies, explained that in Mexico (the endpoint of these butterflies' migration) there is a legend that if you whisper a message to a Monarch, it will carry that message to a loved one in Heaven as it flies. She and her oldest grandson then released a big bunch of butterflies into the air. Many loving messages went up to Uncle Pat with those butterflies.
And then there's that moment that makes you laugh instead of cry--and you always need at least one of those moments on that kind of day. The priest explained that when Uncle Pat was baptized, the Paschal candle was nearby, burning brightly. Then he gestured toward the Paschal candle standing near the casket. Little Brother turned to me and said, "It's the same one?"