7/7/07 was a lucky day for Gino. He got to go home and be with the Lord. It was not such a lucky day for his family and friends he left behind.
This morning at 9 was the funeral for Gino at San Michele island. This is an island that is completely dedicated as a cemetary. There are a few churches and the rest is shore to shore graves and mausoleums. A tourist stop, certainly, but today, it held a different meaning for me.
I am a Protestant so I wont even claim to understand the Catholic funeral rites. And my Italian language skills are not filled with theological and heavenly vocabulary, so I am not even sure I can explain what happened. But first, it was by far one of the most beautiful, serene things I have seen. Despite the sadness and tears, the tribute from the Church commissioning Gino into God's hands was more than moving.
There were 7 priests officiating and each had a specific function during the hour long service. One of the most moving parts was the solo singing by one of the friars. His voice was nothing to commend but the resonance of it and the reverance of it echoing off of the ornately decorated marble structure was enough to bring tears to my eyes. Gods presence was in that building.
I dutifully stood when everyone else stood and I crossed myself when everyone else did and I listened intently to understand. I did not take part in the communion because I know that the Catholic faith does not believe that others can do such a thing and I did not want to be offensive (although they only took the bread and not the wine, so I dont understand that part). I was also taken aback when they took an offering from the pews. I am not sure where that money is going or why they did that and until I know, I guess I will have to check my judgement on that.
My dear friend Marco cried the entire service which was difficult to watch. His 15 year old neice broke into tears upon seeing the casket. Marco's sister was solemn for the most part, dabbing her eyes occassionally and Marco's mom was steadfast through the whole ceremony--a tribute to the matriarchal society that exists here. But no question, she was in grief, having lost her partner of 50 years.
After the service, they wheeled the casket to another part of the island (the obitorio) where the family took last condolences from others and then laid to rest their dear father, grandfather and husband. And the bells rang. Gino was in heaven immediately on his passing Saturday but now the family has released him there and they can begin the healing process.
I took the boat back to Venice and couldnt help but ponder how special and short and precious our life is and what an incredible gift we have to live it. A great reminder that each day is not to be taken for granted.
Rest in peace Gino.