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REQUIESCAT IN GAUDIUM - REST IN JOY
June 24, 2011
 
There were three preludes at Joe Polachek's funeral because, as his partner of 41 years often says, why wear one bracelet when three will do? Greg was everywhere before we began, kissing people, deploying us in the procession, welcoming friends from all the many worlds the two of them inhabited: clergy and church people of all denominations, doctors and nurses, beautiful Balinese ladies in traditional dress, the people from the community of family caregivers in which Greg ministers and which, at the end, served him lovingly in caring for Joe. There were police officers from Joe's years as one of New York's finest. Political people and children came, activists and writers, travel agents -- even people who weren't there were there, watching via streaming video on computers all over the world.

We heard Mozart, Bach and Brahms. We heard cabaret and gospel. We entered the church to the contemplative percussion of the Balinese gamelon. We heard the toccata from Widor's fifth organ symphony, and a trumpet accompanied some of our hymns. We heard psalms. We heard St. Paul's potent account of what love is and what it is not. We heard two loving remembrances from old friends. People smiled at the memories, and sometimes we laughed out loud. I preached a brief sermon. When Greg spoke at the end, he did so both in English and in Indonesian, facing the television camera directly to address the faraway friends who gathered together there because they also loved Joe. When we were finished, two Balinese baskets containing Joe's ashes were carried from the sanctuary by family members, while the trumpet played "When The Saints Go Marching In."

Thus did the holy angels lead Joe Polachek into Paradise.

Joe's mortal remains will live as he did, dividing their presence between New York and his beautiful garden on the magical island he adopted as his home. Those of his son, struck down in the full vigor of youth by a cancer whose injustice to such an innocent Joe never left behind, are there as well. Doubtless Greg will journey to Bali himself again soon, to rest and recover amid the love he and Joe grew there, green and full of life as the garden.

Joe made it his business to experience as much of the beauty of this world as he could, and to enable as many people as he could to see it along with him. He knew that it is a beautiful place, and he loved it well. Now he knows for sure what the rest of us often must struggle to believe: this world's beauty is part of a larger beauty. We have always lived within that larger life, glimpsing it only partially, and that only now and then. But Joe sees it clearly, as we will one day see it clearly ourselves.

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We'll Meet Again

We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
'Till the blue skies
Drive the dark clouds far away

So, will you please say hello
To the folks that I know
Tell them I won't be long
They'll be happy to know
That as you saw me go
I was singing this song

We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day

We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
'Till the blue skies
Drive the dark clouds far away

So, will you please say hello
To the folks that I know
Tell them I won't be long
They'll be happy to know
That as you saw me go
I was singing this song

We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day.
--Ross Parker and Hughie Charles
1939
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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