Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Funerals bring their own baggage. Yesterday’s challenged me to dump mine out in plain view and re-examine three separate life events—which included yesterday’s.

ME was loved in much the same way H was loved. I am grateful to have known her, but selfishly, I felt more grateful that I wasn’t closer to her. One H-magnitude loss in my life is enough; I’m not sure I could bear another. The fact that the prognosis and progression of their respective diseases was almost identical heightened my feeling of loss— not MY loss, but the loss felt by her family. I know—firsthand—what that feels like. Knowledge can be treacherous.

As her family gathered around the casket to say goodbye, my own unfinished business blindsides me. Even the youngest said goodbye. I didn’t get that opportunity with my own father. So shielded was I from his last illness that I don’t have a definite memory of when the last time I saw him was. I have six memories or so that *might* have been the 'last time,' but I have no way of knowing which memory it is.

And H didn’t have a funeral. Sometimes, I catch myself thinking I need to call her and tell her about something. Then I remember.

Fr M, my own family present, hurried by, hugged us hello, exchanged a few words and hurried on. “What do you say? Can you say?” he asked. “I’ll leave it to God.”

He did. And he did as well as he could be expected to do. No unctuous platitudes—just a gentle urging to comfort one another the best we know how and in the ways we best can.

He did his job well.

Her hubby performed the single greatest and most courageous act I have ever witnessed; he gave exactly the eulogy his wife would have wanted. I appreciate how difficult much of what he said was for him—not just out loud, but to a church full of people. But he did it because that’s how she would have wanted it. Because he loves her that much. Brave heart. Brave soul.

Going forward, offering comfort where and when and how we can. This hard new normal will soften over time, as it does, as it has always done.

Godspeed, Me. You've done well.

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