so today . . . i went to a funeral. this is my fourth funeral in three months, and the first one that made me cry.
my uncle passed away a few months ago. it was sudden and unexpected. i got a plane ticket, took a few days off work, and headed north to be with my family. his family did a great job of putting together a service that celebrated who he was, and they did it in a very short time. but i didn't cry. in my defense, i don't cry a lot. but this would be a time when you would think i might, and yet, i didn't. everything happened at such a whirlwind pace, that maybe it didn't really seem real to me that he was gone. and since i live so far away and only see him a couple of times a year, even though my brain knows he is gone, my heart hasn't quite grasped it yet. i can still kind of pretend that he is at home painting or tying fishing flies or going to garage sales . . .
the second funeral was just a couple of weeks later. it was for a very old lady at our church. she was not one of those grumpy, cranky old people that we all encounter occasionally. she was kind and sweet, and never complained about her physical issues--and she had plenty she could have complained about! so her death wasn't completely unexpected. she was ready to go, she knew where she was headed, and she was at peace with it. and while we will miss her, we know that it must be a relief for her to be in a place where she feels no pain and her body works like it is supposed to again. (i'm talking about heaven here, in case you didn't know . . . ) but it was awfully close to uncle jim's funeral. and while i didn't actually cry, it was just too close. i went, but i didn't let myself really participate. finally i just left and wandered around the church offices, waiting for it to be over.
the third funeral was for an older man who had been recently diagnosed with cancer. thankfully, he didn't have to battle it for too long. he lived his life in service to God, and his funeral was a send-off fit for, well, maybe the pope! his children and grandchildren loved him fiercely and were so proud of all he had accomplished, and they wanted us all to know that and remember it! they had quite a bit of time to plan the service, and they made the most of it. again, no tears for me, but i smiled several times at how this family was honoring the life of their dad. and they did it in such a way that it drew them closer together, which would have made their dad very proud too.
but today's funeral was different. today's funeral was for a 44 year old woman who had decided, for whatever reasons, that she was done living. i didn't know her. i've met her sister and parents, but i don't really know them. and yet as i sat there and saw a family that was going to forever have to live with the knowledge that their mom/daughter/sister had chosen to leave them, i cried. finally i cried. i don't know what her life was like. i don't know why she felt she couldn't cope with it any longer. i don't know why she decided to end her own life. but she left people behind who loved her and cared about her, and who will have to figure out how to continue on with their lives without her.
i'm sorry for the gloomy tone of today's blog. usually i try to write something that will make you laugh. but today, i just couldn't. today i feel very, very sad. whenever i go to a funeral, it gets me to thinking about my own mortality. when you go to one funeral every two or three years, it isn't too bad--i think about it for a day or two, and then life gets back to normal. but in the last few months, with all these funerals, i have been thinking about it a lot. i've been thinking about what the service should be like (you should take care of yourselves so you can outlive me, because you will want to be at my funeral!) i've been thinking about who gets what (which is pretty easy, since i only have one daughter!) i've been wondering if will there be ANY good pictures to use (because there will be no viewing, believe me!) but lately i've been thinking about what people will say about me when i'm gone. i try not to worry too much about what people say about me now, while i am alive. but when i'm gone, what will people remember about me?
a couple of years ago, one of our teachers lost her father. we went to the funeral, and later that week, another one of the teachers brought me a piece of notebook paper, all folded up. she said the funeral had started her thinking about how we never get to hear our own eulogies, because if there is a eulogy written about us, we are dead already. so she had decided to write eulogies for each of us, just to let us know how we had affected her life. it was so interesting to read what she had written about me. some of the things were things i kind of expected she would write, but there were a lot surprises in it as well. it was enlightening to see myself through her eyes . . .
but here's what i hope--i hope that when i am gone, people will remember my character and my personality and how i made them feel (which i hope will be good.) i hope that maybe i will have made a difference in someone's life. i hope people are not reduced to saying things like, "she had nice hair," or "she wasn't a bad driver," or "she sure knew how to accessorize," or the dreaded, "i never saw her without her nails done!"
it's easy to get into a rut and just kind of coast through life. i'm kind of doing that right now. but today's funeral made me realize that i need to get my act together. i don't want my life to overwhelm me. i don't want to hide from people--i want them to know who i am, really, not just let them think they know me. i want to be a positive voice in other people's lives. i want to live a long, long time.
i think i may need some vitamins . . . :)