"The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing, and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares." (Henri Nouwen)
I wanted to go to a funeral today. I wanted to be there for my friend, to comfort her and to honor her sister's life. But I couldn't - I had to work - we need the money and my boss needed my help - and the amount of driving I would need to do on the little amount of sleep I've been getting would have been irresponsible. Another friend went for those of us who couldn't be there, made sure Tamara knew the hug was from all of us...but I still wish I had gone.
Some people think there's no point to funerals. Some believe their presence doesn't make a difference. I don't LIKE funerals, but in those times when I've lost someone I love, the funeral has helped me face my loss, dust off my memories, and say goodbye. And seeing a friend silently sitting nearby has always helped me get through it. In my mind, and in my heart, I can still picture Tamara and some other friends where they sat at my brother Buster's funeral. They didn't know him. They were there for me.
Funerals also honor, even celebrate, the lives that have passed from this earth and remind us that each of us still has a life to live, a job to do, a chance to be who ever it is we are supposed to be. A chance to love each other, which includes comforting those who have lost someone.
They also remind us that one more day might be all we have on this earth (maybe that's why some people don't like them.)
Years ago at my Grandfather's funeral, I sat by my weeping Grandmother. They had married as teenagers...worked, lived, laughed, and cried together for decades. In my Christian zeal and youthful ignorance, I almost chastised her for her tears..."Isn't he in heaven now? Shouldn't you be happy?"
It has taken me years of love and loss to understand the source of her tears. She was going to miss him - his voice, his touch, his laugh, his smell (to me, he is cherry tobacco.) She wished for more time. Now. It doesn't matter how old they were - I'm sure they had plans for the next week, month, summer.
I think my friends and I are too young to be losing our parents, much less our brothers and sisters..or each other. Of course, we're not too young - it just feels like we are, because you can never be ready for it.
We can just "do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die."
So I continue to pray, worship, love, dance, cry and laugh. I will write, practice my drums, and work on my degree, God willing, but if my time comes before I'm published or can play "Stranglehold" or get my diploma, I won't feel like a failure...unless I quit trying.
"I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason turn [one's] back on life." (Eleanor Roosevelt)