I love going to funerals, said no one ever. But here I was again sitting with that quiet awe, pondering the mystery of life and death, finding it hard to imagine it will happen to me one day.
Everyone should go to a funeral every now and again. It brings us face to face with our mortality and that’s a good thing to think about once in a while. We are so caught up in our day to day business that barely do we take a quiet moment to look back and see how far we have come or look ahead and pick out the way. Nor do we sit back and enjoy the view from where we are.
At a funeral a life is painted in broad brush strokes and fractured detailed images, the stories that are pulled from the hat of life. I sat there only yesterday listening to the life of this man pass before my eyes. I man I never knew, yet knew fairly well by the time I left the chapel doors.
His son spoke first. He began by telling us all the things he hated about his father. Yes, that had our attention as he proceeded to tell of those things, like getting up early or putting up the hay. Then he confessed what he wouldn’t give to be doing those things with his father just one more time. Lesson learned: you know those things that annoy or irritate you that your loved one does? You will miss them and as the memories rise they will even bring a smile to your face.
At a funeral you can’t help but wonder what folks will say at your own funeral. What experiences will my kids draw on to talk about me? How will they remember me? How do I want to be remembered? Am I living my life so that I am leaving that legacy of memories?
Death can steal us away early or late. Am I living with any regrets, any unspoken words? Are there things that I am putting off doing because I am too busy or too tired or too scared? Sometimes there is no right time, you have to make it happen, maybe even be a little daring.
I sat there surrounded by hundreds of loving family, friends and neighbors. They had dressed in there very best, taken time out of their busy lives to sit patiently, lovingly, quietly listening for the more than two hours that it took to send Sherral on his way…home. I wondered who would come to my funeral.
His wife stood with courage. Would she cry? We would be brave for her. She related that her husband had insisted she speak at his funeral and how she had questioned his wisdom. She finally conceded and joked that now she would finally have the last word. The last words were filled with love and respect, admiration and joy for a full life lived with her best friend.
I looked at my husband as we drove home. I felt more forgiving, he seemed more perfect than a few hours earlier and my mind couldn’t help but think that one day we would have to say goodbye, at least for a while until we were reunited beyond this mortal realm. That day could be tomorrow, it could be many years away. The problem is we never know. We live almost carelessly like that day will never come. We live like we are immortal, untouchable, enchanted.
So tomorrow when I wake up I will pray to have a good memory, a memory of the things I learned and the way I felt at the funeral because you see tomorrow could the last day I have to forgive, to love and to live. You just never know.