I pack my bag to get ready for the day. The usual: notebook, laptop, lunch. And the little ball of anxiety, tight as rubber bands, that still expands the more I find to wrap around it. Where is hope to be found, and where the faith that stands on tip-toe? I pack my bag with what I can find: a baby crying as he takes first steps; a line from a prayer; a field of stars I saw one night; a vegetable pulled from the ground. But hope is the thing with feathers that flits away out of reach. And then I’m called to a funeral. Funerals are strange affairs; I thought I knew this person, but it turns out they travelled stranger roads and wilder dreams on the way to their funeral. I wonder if they expected to marry that person in the front row, clutching Kleenex, or if the children beside her were planned; if they’d imagined working all those jobs before becoming a portrait on a table beside the flowers. It’s hard to shake the feeling that every friend you make is a funeral waiting to happen. So why are we smiling so much? I haven’t seen these people in ten years. They now have greying hair, or four whole kids, or wedding rings. I remember getting to hold that twelve-year-old when she was born; she’s almost as tall as her mother. We tell our stories of plans fallen through and dreams unlooked for. We’re smiling like a birthday, giggling like children; we’re still walking stranger roads than we’d imagined—so we smile because it’s all we can do. One day I’ll be a funeral, and I realize, walking away from the church, that I’m not sure who will be there. Who will give the eulogy? What pastor will preach on grief and joy? What kind of finger sandwiches will people fiddle with as they catch each other up on the last ten years? Death insists that it’s the end to which we’re all gathered, but something more stubborn is stirring. In the midst of death, we are in life. So I pack the smiles of a funeral in my bag and keep walking.