Thursday night, we met with some of our innermost circle of friends at Mena’s house. It appeared, rather to my surprise, to be the first time Mena had been with all the friends since the death of Kostas on 04 July. I suppose she has not felt like socializing.
Mena served us all cheese crepes, which we ate in silence. Then, spontaneously, we all stood up. Manolis led us in the hymn, “Lord, grant rest to the soul of Your servant with the saints, where there is neither pain nor sorrow nor worry, but endless life.” Then we just sort of stood there, not knowing what to say or do next. Finally, I said, “May his memory be eternal!” and we all sat down.
Then Manolis began sharing some of his reflections, recalling some of the good times they’d all had together in their youth (for all these people have been best friends from childhood; Mena has known Kostas literally since her infancy). Manolis spoke of “Galaxy,” an organization they had formed at the Church of Ascension near here, which promoted culture, plays, athletics. “And ping-pong,” added Vasilea, making everyone smile. Manolis waxed theological. Mena began to sniffle and then to cry. Demetrios wept silently, and what was most touching of all was when Maria began daubing at her reddened eyes with tissue. Maria has Alzheimer’s and cannot even remember how to eat without prompting; there was no way she could possibly have understood why anyone was crying. She simply has a heart so tender that when people cry, she cries with them.
Ioannis the theologian came next, sharing his memories and his faith and giving a sort of eulogy. Then Maria’s husband Demetrios gave his monologue and then my husband Demetrios.
Mena spoke, too, and I was thrilled to see that the faith to which she had been unable to turn immediately after Kostas died is back in full force, radiant.
And I must tell you, nobody was tempted to say anything during any of these testimonials (for lack of a better word), nor did any mind wander even though I didn’t understand some of it; everybody listened with full attention to every word. Each speaker seemed to be expressing every heart.
Gradually the conversation ceased to be specifically about Kostas and death, turning to other matters concerning the Christian life.
Someone spoke about God’s love sustaining us, and I thought, “Not just God’s love, either, but also the deep, solid, abiding love of these friends,” which of course is all the same thing.
Vasilios was there, Mena and Kostas’ son. I first met him when he was 12 and by my reckoning, he must be about 37 now. He keeps his mother company in the lonely evenings and is helping her work through Kostas’ belongings, including boxes and boxes and boxes of religious magazines, newspapers, books, tapes and CDs. He wasn’t a hoarder in the general sense, but he did (neatly!) hoard certain things.
Anyway, Vasilios’ friend Eleutherios dropped by to see him, and after about 5 minutes of listening to the conversation, he said, “You all ought to get together more often!” not realizing we do. But his comment prompted us to set a time for the next get-together and I can hardly wait.
We no longer have Kostas’ company, but we do, most definitely, still have deep, sweet communion with him. We are very aware of him, and aware that he is very much aware of our being aware of his being aware…
He Who is mightier than death accomplishes this, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love.