My mother and father in-law are 75 and 85. They go to a funeral every week. Memorials and wakes are their primary social junket. After the service, they eat ham or egg-salad sandwiches and sip coffee. These gatherings exist in a unique temporal dimension: conversation shifts seamlessly between past and present, potent and trivial. They gossip. They decry the cost of gas and talk about whose grandchild appears headed down the worst road. They fall back fifty years to wedding nights, births, and communions. Disappointment and betrayals get yet another look. Really, I can't imagine (fill in the blank) is gone. Who makes the better rhubarb crisp? Then they pick up their plates and go home.
Today I put Thurston's ashes in their new box and set them on the long smooth shelf next to my father's. I watch both boxes and think about my shelf, filling up.