A little later, I looked up from my book to see a procession of people, many wearing deep purple or light blue, carrying balloons of those colours and being lead over to Joan of Arc by those priests. They gathered in front of the Chapel around a young couple who stood out by bearing balloons of bright red, and I thought that perhaps I was witnessing some part of a wedding or anniversary celebration. One of the stragglers came up to the crowd past me and I asked what was going on, and I found out that this was the end of a funeral celebration for a baby that had died. Some words were spoken that I could not hear, and then the balloons were all released, drifting up into the sunset clouds northwest of campus, and fading away into an open swirl of cloud like an oculus, except for one drooping balloon that caught a lower current and went off northeast on its own. Everyone watched them silently until they faded away: as liturgy goes, it was as effective as anything I've ever seen. I can't imagine that kind of pain: to let go of all those dreams and hopes for a child, to mourn not just the child lost but also all the future and all in life that the child never had a chance to experience.
Watching that made me all the happier, in the end, to hear of the "problem" that my sister told me about today: that Sophie learned how to climb out of her crib on Sunday night. Sophie has even been learning how to be disingenuous about the whole thing: coming out of her room and finding Leslie, and exclaiming, "I found you!" as though all that other business about being put in her crib had simply been a misunderstanding, best forgotten. While this new skill has made putting her down at night an even longer trial than before, it's really another rite of passage for which we can be thankful.