Tuesday afternoon, as we were packing to travel out of state for my daughter's great-grandmother's funeral, I picked up my camera.
"I don't think you're going to want to bring your camera to a funeral!" my daughter protested.
No, I agreed, but we were going to be spending a couple of days with her father's family. We'd be spending the night at my stepdaughter's house, and we might want to take pictures at some other point during the trip. Since that grandbaby came along, I'm pretty good about remembering the camera.
It turned out that I didn't take any pictures during the trip, but I definitely found myself wishing that it weren't inappropriate to take pictures at a wake or funeral. Maybe that sounds morbid, but I can tell you that I was snapping pictures in my mind, pictures of family at its very best.
If it were proper to record a funeral as we do weddings and birthday parties and every other occasion of our lives, I'd have snapped my sister-in-law quietly slipping into the chair next to her mother after she saw her start to cry from across the room. I'd have photographed my daughter and stepson from the back, her dark head under his blond one, buried in his shoulder as he held her close. My grandson stretched out sound asleep on a bench in the hallway. My future son-in-law whisking his baby out of the room at the first peep, before my stepdaughter was fully out of her chair. My ex-husband's cousin on her knees in the grass, lifting a flower from the casket to hand to her mother. One young man slipping a supportive arm around another. A glass of water or a tissue quietly extended. People I love at their best.
Yes, funerals are sad and solemn, and it would be inappropriate to be snapping pictures. But I'm holding them in my mind, those snapshots of people unselfconsciously loving one another, reaching out to share.