Monday, March 16, 2009

a moment's sunlight ...


We are but a moment's sunlight
Fading in the grass ...
- Get Together, The Youngbloods


We are so busily engaged in the daily acts of just living each day, that we sometimes forget to acknowledge and honor the fact that we have an expiration date. You, me, the next guy ... we don't remain in an earthly vessel forever.

We've all seen those e-mail chain letters about living life "between the dashes" (dates of birth and death); we've all seen Randy Pausch's Last Lecture video and maybe read the book. We know that each day and each moment is a gift, a fleeting thing, here and then gone. Babies grow, friendships change, love matures ... and then - for one reason or another - we are done with our living here.

People usually aren't comfortable talking about death. Some people believe in the finality of death; that's it, kaput, fini, done, and perhaps that scares some of them, while others are quite comfortable with that concept. The End.

Others believe we are souls temporarily journeying in a body. John Edward once likened it to a person who gets in a car, drives to a destination and then gets out of the car. In the analogy, the person is the soul and the car is the body. We arrive at our destination, leave the car/body and move on.

At my cousin's funeral last week, it was inspiring to see so many family members, friends and friends’ families come out to honor, to share, to remember this life together. Keeping my cousin's spirit with them even though his earthly vessel has served out its useful purpose. The little chapel was overflowing, with about 20 of us standing along the side aisles. After mass, we all proceeded to the gravesite, with a light drizzle of rain coming from the gray skies overhead. We all stood solemnly and in honor as the ceremony was conducted and then everyone still lingered afterward, despite the wet weather, reluctant to leave the cemetery to go to the reception.

My cousin had a very close-knit group of friends, many of whom he'd known for many, many years. They shared so much together in their lives, and i
t was beautiful to see how much he'd meant to them. He was obviously much loved by his friends as well as his family. His life, his personality, his friendship had made an impact on every person gathered in that chapel.

When we attend funerals for our loved ones, or go through a period of mourning, or sit shiva, or wear black armbands – we proclaim our witness of the person's life. We honor and acknowledge the person's journey, with memories of smiles and laughter, of barbeques and parties, of calls and cards, of illness and of death. Some don't like to attend funerals. I've been to many funerals (large family) and find it very comforting and life-affirming to share with others, to celebrate the person who has moved on, to show respect for the soul that joined us for a time while on their journey here.

As we go through life, we all leave footprints behind. We matter to those who love us.

6 comments:

paintergal said...

Thought provoking, Rose.
We've been watching old home videos this week while the boys are home on spring break.
It's been such a pleasant experience to see my dad on those tapes. It will be 10 years in August since he passed away, and seeing him on the TV- talking and sitting in his chair surrounded by the hubbub of the grandkids from Christmases past, is so comforting.

rebecca said...

Very touching and well expressed, Rose. Funerals tend to put us on the right track by forcing us to once again take charge of our lives rather than living it through cruise control. I also come from a very large family and funerals are a time to express and feel all of those things that you so beautifully expressed here.

My thoughts are with you dear friend. May you find strength among the loving arms and support of family and friends around you.

((hugs))

Britt-Arnhild said...

Beautiful post.
I can tell from what you have written that your cousin has left some beautiful footprints.

Soov said...

Beautifully said...

Kat said...

Aww Rose...you do have a beautiful way of expressing yourself and making us all think a bit. Treasure each day!

Lady Prism said...

It's 3:35 am here, Rose, and I can't sleep so I decided to pop in here for a visit. I'm glad I did - this is very beautiful.

It is my hope and prayer that someday my life will be celebrated by those I leave behind.