Monday, January 25, 2010

Today is All We Have

Wedding joy has been dampened. The bride lost her uncle today. Not expected. The passing caught the family unprepared. Unprepared? Is anyone really prepared?

Growing up back that lane on Neff Road, death was not a stranger. Pets were lost. Dad slaughtered beef and pigs. Chicken met their demise on regular intervals. But that was not the teacher.

Mom and Dad seemed to go to funerals all the time. I can’t remember a time that I had not seen a deceased body. Open caskets were the way there and probably still is. We went to say ‘good-bye’ and to let families know that we cared. It was the way of it.

The first I’d ever seen that I can remember was a girl who drowned in the creek. I don’t remember much more only that she was a child. Death came to all ages. I learned that early.

Mom and I would argue over the open casket. I thought it barbaric to stare at the deceased. To Mom it was tradition, the way it was done. Talk at the casket would revolve many times about how the corpse looked. Dead was dead as far as I was concerned. No matter what was done, they didn’t look alive. So why have an open casket?

Then I lost my parents. Respectfully, we had the open caskets. A last chance to touch my parent, place a kiss on the head, say my good-byes, was given to me. The deceased became part of the conversation, not the conversation. We laughed at stories from the past. We shared last moments with many of these people we would never see again. My parents were our only tie.

This losing teaches us not to be toughened but maybe to embrace, to realize each moment and not squander the time away, to look at one another, really look, and love.

Neff Road taught me what it is, this thing of dying. It taught me community. It taught me strength. It taught me about myself. My children are on their journeys now into life and death. Today we mourn with Lisa’s family. Today we rejoice in what we have in our love of one another. Today……

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