For years I would watch my parents and grandparents read the death notices and obituaries in the newspaper. I regarded this as a morbid past-time, being young the idea of friends dying never crossed my mind.
Now years later I have a new perspective on this habit. During the month of May the ‘Old Guy’ and I attended three funerals.
Technically the first event was a celebration of life. It was planned to take place six months after the actual death. The initial shock and pain had subsided and the family and friends were free to share the lovely reminiscences of the loved one. A photo show of her life from childhood; through motherhood up to her recent years played in a loop on a screen throughout the celebration. Her family and friends took turns telling about their experiences with her. There was always a conclusion; “and then there was wine to be shared”. Laughter, tears and happy moments were recalled. When we returned home I commented that I felt like I was wrapped in a giant hug of joy. We would no longer visit with her and share a glass of wine but we would never forget how much she meant to so many people.
The second funeral was a much different event. It was for a young man in his early thirties. We had never met him but his parents became our friends after all our children were grown and living their own lives. His death was a painful, heart breaking time in the lives of his family. This funeral was a gut wrenching experience. His parents and sibling were totally devastated and inconsolable. Children are expected to outlive their parents and this is a nightmare no parent wants to have. Under no circumstances would we tell our dear friends that we know how they feel; how could anyone; who has not experienced such a loss? All we can do is be there when they need us; provide a shoulder to cry on; create a moment of happiness when needed and support them .
The third funeral was for a childhood friend of my husband. So many memories to sift through and realize that there would be no more. I was introduced to him when I was dating my future husband and we travelled with him throughout his business adventure and marriages. An artistic and musically talented man who received the dreaded diagnosis of terminal cancer. He experienced remission on more than one occasion but eventually the disease triumphed. Music and art were part of his funeral celebration. Friends spoke about his love for his wife and shared their stories to assist with the healing everyone needed.
So now I return to my parents reading the death announces and obits and realize that I have become my parents. All too frequently while reading the morning paper I will look up and say to the ‘Old Guy’, “so and so has died”.