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Photo by Justin Casey on Unsplash

I was talking with a veteran friend of mine the other day about how frustrated she is with how people treat Memorial Day. “It’s not a day for barbecues and beaches. It’s more somber than that,” she said. The meaning behind the day is right there in its title: memorial. Remembering those who died.

Instead, the only thing we often remember is that it’s a day off of work, which means it’s an extra day to do what we want, and what we want is usually to cook out, go swimming, play frisbee. What we want surpasses everything else.

That’s a sentiment I’m seeing more often lately, not just on this Memorial Day. People want haircuts. People want to see their friends. People want to go out to eat. It doesn’t matter that there’s a pandemic we’re battling, that cases are still popping up every day, that humans are dying in droves. People don’t want to stay inside anymore, and that’s all that matters. …

When last night’s halftime show concluded, I felt a bit conflicted, but I wasn’t sure why. The show had serious star power, amazing choreography, seamless transitions, plenty of energy. But it left a bad taste in my mouth. I went to Twitter to see if others were better articulating this strange aftertaste.

One of the first comments I saw was from a mother, who praised the talented duo for their performances, but wished her kids had been in bed instead of up watching it. …

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Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

My grandmother is a saint, at least that’s what Father John called her, and he should know, even if he did drink and smoke and curse like a sailor. She did, after all, raise five children in a house built only for two, cooked all their meals, made sure they said their prayers. She raised them in the Catholic Church, raised them to be altar servers, ushers, and Eucharistic ministers, raised them to devote every weekend to the Lord. She and her children and later her grandchildren volunteered at every Lenten fish fry, every summer church festival.

The night she died, we were at Saturday evening Mass, as we were every week, praying for her like she knew we would be. Father John filed us down the side aisle of the church from of the front two pews we occupied, out the large wooden doors into the parking lot. My brother and two cousins looked on from the chancel in their serving robes, unable to follow, frightened and confused. With tears in our eyes and holes in our hearts, we filed back into the church and finished Mass. …


Jennifer Furner

Essayist writing about writing, motherhood, and the 30-something experience. Michigander through and through.

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