Saturday, April 9, 2011

Death, funerals, and really living your life

This has been a hard, exhausting week.  One of my son-in-laws lost his mother, and I lost a friend.  We weren't BFF, but, we were nice to each other, shared occasional family meals and valued each other's adult child.  Her son is also my son.  My daughter was also her daughter.  So, this week, we all lost a family member.  As I wept at her funeral, it wasn't just that she had died so quickly following a cancer diagnosis.  I wept as we remembered a life well lived.  I wept realizing how much she had treasured her children and her grandchildren.  I wept as her husband of over 30 years gave the moving eulogy of his history with her.  There was admiration, love and respect in his words.  There was the memory of laughter.  There was the pride in a a wife who did so much and meant so much to so many people.  The viewing had been crowded.  The church, on a workday was full.  The funeral procession was long.  In sixty short years, this strong willed (and very stubborn) woman had left her mark.  She had survived so many things, had many losses and disappointments.  But, she had still lived her life with dignity, love and generosity.  People remembered her cooking and hospitality.  Everyone remembered her warmth.
I remembered her worry, when our two (now grown and married) teenage children had been becoming "too serious" at 19.   It was an unbelievably uncomfortable telephone conversation, as she worried out loud to me about where their relationship was "going" (yes, she meant sex).   How she had supported their love as it had grown and matured.  How joyful she was at the wedding reception when they married, after they had both finished college, found their niches in life and known that they were ready to be together forever.
I think, today, sad as we all are,  now that the funeral is over, and somehow the sun has come out, that joy in living and loving must be remembered. 
I will try to be there for him, my friend.  Not the mother you were for him, I know.  But, I will encourage and support and love him, since you have moved to another place, and can't be here to do it.  I will be his mother as much as I can and he will be my son, in my heart.
Rest in peace, for the groundwork, the foundation you have left behind, from a well lived life, will support us all as we learn how much we will all miss you.