Or is it only a wake when the departed's ashes or body is there - in which case our little shindig would not qualify as a wake.
Maybe it was just a big barbeque. Nonetheless, it was in honor of our friend who passed and even more so, in honor of her family.
My brother and sister and I grew up with the Bromley family. We lived in the middle of a little street called Hiawatha in the Northwest part of Las Vegas. Our cousins lived next door to us and the five Bromley kids and their cousins lived just down the street. We played together, worshipped and celebrated together, and laughed and loved together.
Last week it was the oldest of the Bromley girls that died. She was only in her early 50's and sadly it was just bad life choices that caused her death.
She had two grown sons. They held a very private, very small remembrance for her to express their love and share their grief.
The thing about death is that it brings the living together. It was the second time in 7 months that the Bromleys gathered to mourn.
Some still lived in Vegas, but others came from New Mexico and Idaho. My brother mentioned to his ex-wife that if the family were up for it, while everyone was still in town, we would love to have them come over for a barbeque. And so they came. And their kids came, and their kid's kids, and their cousins, and our cousins, and both sides of cousin's kids.
The thing about bringing the living together is that if they are coming together at my house, then the living who are living in my house better get their living arses outside and do the ever-living yardwork! You may remember how very uncooperative my family can be when it comes to yardwork.
While our front yard is presentable (thanks to homeowner's association rules) our backyard was another story. A scary story. Since we didn't know for sure we were hosting the shindig until the night before, there wasn't much time to transform it.
Fortunately, hubby works better under pressure. What two months of nagging couldn't do, a last minute invitation to 30 people could. He and my brother had the yard looking fabulous in a few hours.
I'm thinking I can keep it looking nice if I just have a last minute barbeque for a bunch of people once a month. If I tell hubby that everyone will have to go upstairs for the entertainment, I wonder if I can finally get the baseboards done in our bedroom? I better take another look at the stripper pole idea of his that I nixed.
Yardwork wasn't the only thing gained by our soiree. Friends who hadn't seen each other in 35 years had a chance to reconnect and reminisce.
One family grudge was mended and another had begun to heal. New friendships were formed over hamburgers, homemade macaroni salad, and sweet tea.
Old friendships were strengthened over beer and shots of whiskey raised in toasts to loved ones departed.
Even the kids begged to stay longer as they alternated between playing Rockband and playing air hockey on the dilapidated air hockey table that we had been meaning to get rid of.
The reason for the event was sad, but everyone was happy. That made me happy. It made me feel really good that our home was the hub for the past and present to come together. It was another reminder that a home is people, not a place.
I'll stop with the cliches now and just say - To the Bromleys - May Tom and Carol rest in peace.