Unlike the person I've quoted below, I do hate funerals. My faith tells me they are celebrations of beginnings, but the truth is they still feel like endings to me. That being said, I think things are different now--we laugh during funerals without trying to hide it, because the memories people leave behind are often both precious and funny; we really do celebrate the lives of those we've lost.
|Photo by Annette Wise|
Some people hate funerals. I find them comforting. They hit the pause button on life and remind us that it has an end. Every eulogy reminds me to deepen my dash, that place on he tombstone between our birth and our death. - Regina Brett
My aunt died this week at 97. She'd lived a full and happy life, working outside the home and remaining childless during a time when those just weren't the things to do. She loved and cherished her husband, but after he died, she carried on for over 30 years without him.
Today was her funeral, and the minister who officiated there had never met her. She wasn't a churchgoer, and since she came from out of state, the man who spoke the usual words of comfort and parting was a stranger both to her and to most of us who attended. I thought he did a great job. But the one who did the best job was the one who signed the card accompanying a floral arrangement with the words, "For the best friend I ever had."
On the way home from the cemetery, while the mud dried on my high heels and I tried to keep the hem of my dress coat off the not-very-clean floor of my car, I thought about those words. And, since I've spent the last 24 years of my life, since the day my first child was born, feeling either guilty or worried or both, I got worried about the whole situation.
Would my sons remember that I drove them to at least 10,000 games and practices or would they remember that sometimes I yelled at them because I was just too tired to cope one more minute?
Would my daughter remember all the fun we had shopping and talking and being together or would she only recall the times I'd grounded her "for life, not one minute less"?
Would they remember the movies I took them to or the ones I didn't?
Would my husband mourn me forever, which I wouldn't want him to do, or forget me in the space of time it took him to learn how to buy his own socks, which I wouldn't want him to do, either?
Would my mother-in-law remember how much I loved her or would she remember my hit and miss (mostly miss) housekeeping, so opposite of hers?
Would people say, "she tried hard," or would they say, "she never could get anything quite right"?
Fortunately, it's only about six miles from the cemetery to my house, so that was all the time I had for worrying about things like that. But I thought about them all evening, as I thought about my aunt. I thought about the eulogies I've heard--both the ones that moved me to tears and the ones that left me cold and wondering who or what on earth the officiant was talking about.
It's nothing you can control. You just do the best you can and hope it's enough. You don't, or at least you shouldn't, worry about things like the ones I fretted about today in the car. You should worry about what you do while you're alive.
And if you have a best friend, maybe you should send them some flowers or a card and tell them how you feel about them. Soon. Because while it was a lovely eulogy to my aunt, they are words that should be spoken among the living, too.