A funeral is a ritual for closure, typically a memorial or celebration of life. Today, with Lou’s ashes in a simple urn and a smiling photo taken just 10 days ago on Anjelica’s birthday, I held “A Service of Remembrance, Healing, and Hope” at the Congregational Church of Amherst. On one side of the traditional laminated card, beneath his name, year of birth and death, was printed the “Footprints” poem. The other side of the card was an image of a forest, and words from the Serenity Prayer, both dear to our hearts. Anjelica sat in the front pew on my lap with her head on my shoulder throughout the service, which included several readings, and two precious songs that spoke to us in life, and now in his death: Amazing Grace and Ave Maria. Behind and surrounding us was a community of support I did not understand existed all along for both Lou and me all these years. Many had attended our wedding in the garden at Union College twenty years ago, including both of our families and several of his fraternity brothers. We were joined by my dear friends, co-workers, Lou’s local clients, our neighbors, teachers and families from Anjelica’s school.
How could we have felt so all alone and in despair? I cried through the service for the countless losses. For the loss of a father, a husband, a son, a friend. For the loss of ourselves somewhere along the way. For the love that was never enough. For the love we didn’t feel but was there for us all the time. I mourned the lives we never had and never will.
We gathered in the community room after the closing prayer for people to offer their condolences and for me to extend gratitude. Family and close friends had been invited to a private catered meal at the Bedford Village Inn Mia organized under a pseudonym. Lou’s family doted on Anjelica with gifts, hugs, and love that had been kept distant by years of senseless feuds. My family stood vigilant by our sides with both love and a sense of fierce protection against any potential harm. All of this was here for Anjelica and me. Had always been here for me. Had always been here for Lou. Nico, who has been there for us all since day one, pulled me aside earlier to solemnly disclose that over a few beers on that foggy night in Hell a few weeks ago, Lou confided that he considered crashing the plane into a mountain or something with all three of us on board. I lightly tapped the back of his hand, looked deep into his sorrow, and said, “You should have told me. But I forgive you,” then hugged him tight. Nobody would have believed such a thought could actually be true.
Although we were no doubt followed by media throughout the day, they did not intrude. The story of the kamikaze pilot who destroyed his own home is still making local, national, and international headline news. People are quoted to have described Lou as either friendly and outgoing, or angry, eccentric, egotistical, unstable, and reclusive. I am typically characterized as the quiet, timid wife they really don’t know well. I’ve ignored or declined all requests for interviews, but my lawyer released a standard statement from me to the media, “My daughter and I appreciate everyone’s understanding as we try to come to grips with this tragedy in our lives. It is my hope that my daughter’s privacy and my privacy will be respected during our time of grief.”
My right to privacy is apparently at odds with the public’s interest in our personal lives. Under the premise of public interest and the first amendment of the constitution, three media groups have joined forces to petition the court to unseal and release all documents pertaining to my ex-parte hearing and restraining order. It is not worth my time and energy, never mind the cost to hire a constitutional law attorney to fight this, so I’ll just leave it to the court to decide.