Today was such a day. This was not a first for me; I have been “here” before. But each time, each loss, each remembrance carries with it some unique character, some memorable moment or moments that sets it apart from other such experiences. There is nothing routine about loss. Today we celebrated the life of a woman whose life had touched many – with dimpled smiles, hospitality, home-baked goodies, home-made cranberry sauce (yes! jellied sauce, not the whole berry stuff I make), sewing – crafting beautiful Christmas tree skirts, altering dresses and more, painting, doing pastels, love of animals (even forgiving one of mine who on more than one occasion got into a cake or a left over roast…the cake was NOT left over), and so much more.
What marked today as unique for me was the long line of cars that travelled in unison to the cemetery. I drove alone which gave me time to think about this outpouring of care and respect not only for the deceased but for her family, to think about the testimony that was spelled out for all to see as we wound through rotaries and traffic lights. I could not help but think what those who waited for us to pass were thinking. For one, I imagine that they were struck by the length of the line of flagged and head-lighted cars; surely they too realized in that moment, that this was someone who was deeply loved. When I have been in a similar situation I have been prompted to lift a prayer, to reflect on my own mortality, to breathe deeply, grateful for the life that is mine.
Once the prayers had been said at the grave side we were invited to take a flower or flowers, and either place it on the casket or take it home as a reminder of this dear friend. I chose a red rose to place on the casket –symbol of her rich and beautiful life. I chose some pussy willows and purple flowers (I cannot name them) to bring home: the pussy willows a reminder of her soft and gentle ways, the purple as a reminder of role that color played in her life, in her sewing, her decorating and her art.
It is too bad that we will be called on to attend more and more funerals as we get older. But I thank God that it will never be routine.