Celebration of life…

Perhaps it’s one of the downsides of getting older, but over the last twelve months, I’ve attended too many funerals of family members.

There has been a uniqueness about each one of those funerals but there has also been a number of similarities. Death is never boring. It takes each of us in its own way.3C5C4185-7D37-4F07-9B7C-EEF024DA7892

And that’s what strikes me most –

Even when people have lived long lives – when they look out from their own eyes, they often feel like there’s still time; maybe not plenty of it, but at least some….

When it’s a sudden death, those of us left behind can think  “what if” but that’s really just the ego playing a game with us. Things are exactly the way they’re meant to be. If things were meant to be different, they would have been.

As I sat in the church last Friday morning waiting for my uncle’s remains, and the other mourners to arrive – I had a deep awareness and understanding of the need for the ritual around funerals, and I connected to the real reason that I was sitting in the church.

Those of us who attend funerals are witnesses to the life that’s been lived. We’re there because we have some level of history with the person who has departed, and we have insight into the numerous footprints that have been left behind.

I wouldn’t have seen much of my uncle in recent years but I have some really fond memories of the role he played in my life when I was younger. He was a real trickster and teased me whenever the opportunity arose.  As I was a sickly child he nicknamed me the “puny human”; and yet I always loved to see him arriving into my parent’s home for his morning tea break when he was working nearby.

I would also have been aware of the love that my father had for his younger brother.  There was nothing that he wouldn’t have done for him, and that was just one of the many reasons why it felt important for me to be there to say goodbye.  Although my father passed away seventeen years ago, his love for my uncle was visible through the presence of my brother and I being there.

As I sat in the church waiting, I also remembered the time that my uncle had called to my home 30 years ago to let me know that his mother, who was my grandmother, had passed away. He also had the difficult job of telling me that, at the same time my grandmother was taking her last breath, my own mother had suffered a heart attack at my grandmother’s bedside, and that she was in intensive care in the hospital.

I also remembered the time when I called to my uncle’s home 12 years ago after hearing that his beloved wife had passed away in her sleep as she lay beside him.  When I saw my uncle that day he was utterly devastated, and I didn’t think he’d survive six months without his darling wife.  But, as heartbroken as he was, he did survive because he had his son, daughter-in-law and gorgeous granddaughters; and they let him how much they loved and needed him in their lives.

As I sat in the church waiting last Friday morning, I couldn’t help but think how delighted he must now be – reunited with the love of his life. 50D46273-125A-4A37-851C-93EF3ED3B4F9

I also thought about my cousin – now a grown man but still their only adult child.  It was he who found his father; and unfortunately, as fate determined, there was no time for them to say goodbye.

I thought about what it must have felt like for my cousin to see the birthday card that his father had got for him, which was on the kitchen table waiting to be signed because the following day was meant to be a special birthday for my cousin.

I then thought about my own son who is now also an only adult child; and how lonely a journey it can be when there are no siblings to share the painful loss that’s inevitable when a parent’s time has come to leave this world.

I also thought about the goodness of people and how regardless of differences of opinion or perspectives on life – they generally show up for us when we really need them to be there.

Throughout the funeral mass, I was conscious of the dignified and fitting send off that my cousin and his wife had arranged.  The beautiful music and songs, heartfelt readings, and the obvious effort that was made to include as many people as possible in the funeral mass. In the celebration of my uncle’s life on earth, we were privileged to be witnesses of the life that he’d lived.

At the end of the funeral mass, I felt honoured to read this poignant verse:

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It’s time to say goodbye for now. 🙏🏻

 

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