This week, I attended a wake, went to Catholic mass, and walked in a funeral procession to a cemetery. A student in our art school (also Carlos and Thelma’s neighbor) lost his dear mother on Sunday morning.
I learned there is a tradition in Magdalena where a wake is held in the home of the grieving family and tents are set up outside while members of the community come and go for a full 24-hour period before the service and burial of the deceased. It is expected that drinks and food be served to visitors during this time frame as well. Because of the immense cost of this all, people who visit bring rice, beans, corn, and other necessities and it truly becomes a community affair. I found it incredibly difficult to watch Milton serve people (including myself) punch during my time spent at the wake. I wanted to do anything to assist them and allow them to grieve in whatever way they needed to so, but tradition is tradition in this town. This includes serving anybody and everybody who shows up at your house to pay their respects to your late family member.
After staying till 10:30pm, Carlos and I left as more people were pouring in. He told me how people would come at every hour of the night/morning in order to ensure that the family is not alone. Those unable to attend the services would come at three and spend the early morning hours with the family before heading off to the fields, the factory, or the mountain for work.
We went to her mass Monday morning and exited within the crowd that walks behind the grieving toward the cemetery. We listened to the rosary sung loud as the family stood around her casket. I watched a 12 year old say goodbye to his mother.
It was a hard two days, but I cannot compare any of my emotions to what they must be experiencing.
One comment I must make, there was a joy found in different places throughout the many events. I saw a community band together to assist a widower and his children. I saw laughter between friends late at night while playing cards in the cold. I saw a lot of love and hugs. I saw hope.
Albertina had been sick for quite awhile. There was peace in knowing that she is free from her pain. There is hope in her legacy left in her children. Most importantly, there is hope in the healing hands of Jesus.
Life, Death, Weddings, Birthday Parties. It all happens here, just looks a little different from what we’re used to. Thankfully, the God we serve is the same wherever we may be, today, tomorrow, and forever more.
I pray peace for this family and hope in this time,
-Caleb the Intern