Mourning Armband Wanted

Our last time together in 2020.

I’m longing for a black armband. Not the kind I wore back in college to protest the then-current war but one for mourning. Didn’t this used to be a thing? I think I’m OK without the long black dresses and veils on the women I saw in Italy in the 70’s. Their attire was head-to-toe black following a death in the family. I just want an armband. I may look/act/even feel “fine,” but the ache is still there.

Two weeks ago, fourteen of us in our masks crowded under a small tent-like structure to bury my mother. It was cold, rainy but so were our hearts. The smallish funeral procession – it was immediate family only due to these novel times – had properly winded across town from the church to this familiar cemetery.  Out of respect, or the law, cars had pulled over to let us pass. I found that touching, along with everything else that day.

The long hearse stopped by the rose-colored, heart-shaped stone which listed my dad’s name, birth and death dates and my mom’s name and birth date, the rest will be filled in soon. On the back side is their wedding date, May 22, 1948, and the terms of endearment they called each other, “Sug & Sugie.” We are a grave-visiting family so I often stopped by here on my trips to Quincy. My mom liked to keep the flowers current.

A few chairs were set up, draped in blue. I got one of them. Maybe because I really am the oldest now. The graveside service was much shorter than the one at the church: The one she had planned with me years ago on a Sunday afternoon at her dining room table. This one seemed to end with the Lord’s Prayer but I knew there was going to be a postscript.

“Moonlight Serenade”, the centerpiece song of the Big Band’s, Glen Miller Orchestra, filled the air for the final goodbye. I knew my whole life that this melody would be played at this moment as mom had made that very clear. I just didn’t know how much it would break my heart.

After saying hi to my grandparents buried near by and bye to the rest of the family, Tom and I got in our car and drove home. 5 hours. Covid, you know, no after-party.

Food, flowers and cards were waiting and kept coming. In case you wonder if that’s really helpful, it is. I finally took the cards down this week.

I read in Genesis 50 this week that the Egyptians mourned for Jacob for 70 days. I think I’ll do the same and more for my mom.

I just wish I had a black armband so all who pass me could remember too.

Hope for the best,


PS Here is my mom’s obituary Betty C. Wiewel

4 Responses to “Mourning Armband Wanted”

  1. 1 Peggy January 28, 2021 at 4:47 PM

    Oh Tish, our experience is so similar. Tom and I left Houston on Jan. 3rd, drove 2 days to Cleveland, attended my Mom’s “family only” funeral, got back in the car and drove to Cincinnati for the night. We arrived home within 5 days of leaving.That was disappointing and heartbreaking. But, we did get to celebrate Mom’s life, and for that I’m grateful. Blessings and peace as you grieve.

  2. 2 Letitia Suk January 28, 2021 at 5:02 PM

    Peggy…I’m sure we were experiencing so many similar emotions. Praying for you as you remember and grieve.

  3. 3 Megan Pool January 28, 2021 at 5:28 PM

    Tish, I’m so sorry for the loss of your Mom. I’ve loved reading about your visits with her. They’ve inspired me to be intentional about my own Mom who we moved by us this past year and is in a Memory Care Unit. I hope you feel seen, heard, and understood by our God who is so glad to be with you in your grief. May you know how real Jesus is right now. Thank you for sharing your Mom and this journey with us. I’ll be praying for you. Love, Megan

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. 4 Letitia Suk January 28, 2021 at 6:17 PM

    Thank you. I do feel that ‘seen and heard.” Appreciate your prayers.

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