Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fight against the Sadness, Artax!

Nothing quite like cemeteries in the rain.

April 15 marked the one-year anniversary of my grandmother's passing and today is her Hokee Hankeest. This translates into "soul rest". It's basically a memorial service and marks the end of the mourning period. (Armenians have 3 main events when someone passes: the funeral, a 40-day memorial service, and a one-year memorial service.) A Hokee Hankeest involves a ritual gathering of close friends and family at the gravesite while the Armenian priest says a prayer. Then everyone goes to church, and lastly everyone at church is invited to join the family of the deceased for food, pastries, coffee, and fellowship.

Today's weather reflected our moods pretty accurately. It started out gloomy, depressing, melancholy, and ended up being a beautiful day. So the question is, where did the shift happen?

Well, it went a little something like this:

It was raining. Only a light drizzle, but enough to make my hair look ridiculous. Every step I took, no matter how calculated or deliberate, sent mud splattering up my legs and all over my high heels. I got mud in my high heel shoes. Ugh. Slowly, family members started arriving and congregating around my grandmother's grave. It was funny watching everyone try to figure out the "path of least flood and mud", and how to navigate between the burial plots. It didn't matter because everyone was covered in mud by the time they reached her gravesite.

The mood was solemn. Cemetaries get that way. My sisters and I arrived pretty early and had to wait as everyone else arrived. We tried to find the highest ground possible and took our positions, scared to move even the slightest bit because it would be sure to sink you into the ground. It was like a game for all the women present. Try NOT to let your heels sink into the soggy earth. It had been raining all weekend and the ground was extremely soft. It was funny to see people wobble, pull out their heels from the ground, then reposition themselves on a seemingly sturdier area only to do it all over again. Finally, the family was all present and so was the Armenian priest.

At this point my feet were already killing me because I had spent the evening before on my feet in heels for several hours. Needless to say, I was not comfortable. We stood at the grave for a while, all the time softening the ground beneath us even more. At one point my heels sunk into the ground for the millionth time, and at that point I whispered to Seelva, "I give up." I just let them go down and stood there with my heels in the mud, feeling sad and pathetic and sorry for myself.

Seelva, leaned over and whispered back, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Never give up! Don't let the sadness take you, Artax! You dumb horse!"

I TOTALLY lost it! Everyone within earshot busted out laughing! If you aren't laughing right now as you read this, it's because you have never seen The Neverending Story (for shame!), or just can't remember it. Go look up "Artax dies in the Swamp of Sadness" on Youtube right now! It's the scene where a warrior boy (Atreyu) and his horse (Artax) are traveling through the Swamps of Sadness. If you let sadness overtake you, you sink in the mud and die (kind of like quicksand, except quickmud). The boy's horse at one point gives in to sadness, sinks, and dies. It is ridiculously cheesy, over-the-top dramatic, and HILARIOUS!

It was so funny because it was almost exactly what I was doing at that moment! I really was feeling pretty lousy AND literally sinking in the mud. Then all of a sudden, I decided not to give in to the sadness. And the clouds disappeared and the world became a brighter, happier place. This is just another reason why it is important to have people you love around you to lift you up. I didn't need a lecture or a cry or to talk about my feelings. All I needed was someone who loves me to make me laugh by quoting a classic 80s fantasy film. Thank you, Seelva. :)

1 comment:

Anait said...

Hey, found your blog while I was researching Armenian current events...its always good to find a fellow Armo :)

My grandfather's Hokee Hankeest was this March, so I know how you feel! Then I got to the Neverending Story part and literally laughed out loud ....thanks for the much needed laugh!