My life was about to change for the coming year of 1994. I didn't know yet but it was my last Christmas as a single girl.
I was spending that Christmas time at my dad's family house with uncles, aunts and cousins - a lazy 25th, December afternoon, after a meal of pastries, meats, puddings for dessert, and having a warm coke to pass the time and help us with our always awkward conversation.
My aunt Marli and her dears weren't there with us and it was not the kind of worry that I would try to solve with a question which could bring me some reckless answer. Numerous families are always in trouble when they are not as big as hundreds of people together.
But suddenly, after the Christmas lunch (the best part of the reunion), she called my dad from out of the gate. Something was wrong: she didn't want to come in and the conversation was lasting for so long without a note of conclusion. Other uncle joined to the suspect reunion to learn more, and the dirt dishes started to be unpleasantly appearing on the table more than before.
Then the news came: her mother-in-law had died that night and didn't have where to be buried yet. At that day and at that Christmas afternoon, there wasn't a person in the mortuary who could provide the burial for the deceased old lady. Her sons tried to find a lair, but it couldn't wait until the next working day. So the solution had to be found among our uncles: burying my aunt's mother-in-law pro tem in our family's charnel house.
At that time there were two years and half that my grandma was dead and she was buried there. They had about five minutes to decide that they would stop the prolonged Christmas reunion around the table and unbury grandma and granddad to put with them an acquainted body.
And yes, they would see my grandma's bones, all dressed in her daily beige, stamped with yellow flowers favorite dress.
It seemed to me a unique opportunity to watch her as never before. Even if I could someday have the power to find her bones back, they wouldn't be in that perfect condition. Or at least that was what wondered: my grandma had died of cancer, and I wished to learn if it had reached her bones - watch it before the floor could consume the wounds caused by the disease. Time seemed a crucial factor to discover it.
The females and children of our family couldn't go, unless aunt Marli, for that solemn and unpredictable sorrowful moment. I was so close to see her bones that had something mine, it would be a profound experience... but I won't dare to argue that I was a sane person, and that it would be a safe decision for anyone to submit one's own eyes to that experience.
At that time I was a proud Capricorn, daughter of a Capricorn doctor, son of a family with many proud doctors... I intuited what would be dad's eyes on his mom's bones, like mine. When he came back home, I asked him how grandma was: "just like herself, all in her place, with that old little dress of her". "And did the cancer reached he bones?", I asked, for what he replied: "I tried to see it but it was all too fast. But they looked clean and all right".
Many years later I found out that one of our uncles, also a doctor, had stolen some little pieces of bones, from grandma and grandad, to put in his little music box at home. Go figure!
At that time I was not only single, but also a lonely person. Moreover I was not a good Christian (I was really a pagan...) so I was not concerned about the birthday Child. My life was about to change from curiosity to the search of a reality of affection, with real bones. That odd afternoon had a secret gift from the charnel house, when I could feel again solidarity in family issues, the possibility of overcoming differences, the strength of facing an unusual situation and going for help, the daring of asking and feeling corresponded in my ideas and having a real reply.
It was a long journey from the coffin and from the mud for me to learn the way back for my own remains to grow all together - a path that I must keep for many Christmas ever since.
Jesus is birthday child with mysterious blesses!