Why do I go to funerals? I go because I remember how comforting it was when people showed up for my father’s funeral many years ago. He was 50, I was 21. It meant a lot to everyone in the family when a large crowd filled St. Patrick’s Cathedral for my cousin’s funeral in 2001.
If I still lived in New York, I would go to the funerals for my classmates’ parents, which I occasionally hear about via email. If I still lived in Burbank, I would attend the funerals of fellow parishioners at St. Finbar Church. It’s the way I was brought up. I’ve been to more than a few funerals in Tennessee too.
On Monday, I went to the funeral for Holly Pichiarella at All Saints Church. She was only 43 and the mother of three kids. As I arrived, Holly’s husband Larry asked if I was there for Holly or if I was there to do my hour of prayer. He didn’t realize that Holly had friended me on Facebook. She was a Star 102.1 listener. When I saw her with her head scarf at Lenten suppers and other parish events, I would greet her with, “hello, Facebook friend!”
Through her Facebook page, I learned of Holly’s setbacks in her fight against cancer and her last hope for a clinical trial at Vanderbilt. I knew that she and Larry celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary in May and that their youngest child turned 10 in June. I also knew that Holly’s 43rd birthday was the day before she died. Rest in peace, Facebook friend.