- We shower expectant mothers and brides-to-be to help transition them into new life with new lives…
- We gift and cake and party hat birthday boys and girls…
- We gather to remember the lives of those we cherish when they step through earth's door into eternity.
This week in the span of a few hours, I celebrated the lives of two people; one who impacted my past, the other who continues to be a part of my life and will be in the future.
A funeral and a surprise party: my best-friend-from-sixth-grade-and-beyond lost her father to Parkinson's and my niece turned 18.
I debated going to Mr. Fincher's funeral. I haven't seen him in decades or Mandy in years, and to work out logistics was tricky. Adding to the funeral and surprise party, my sister had surgery last week–my initial reason for squeezing travel into the midst of a very busy season at home in the first place!
But Mandy is the type friend with whom I end conversations with commas and pick up mid-sentence when we have flesh and blood connection. My affections for her run far and wide and span a life.
In the past, I excused away going to funerals. Because I moved away from my hometown after college, and then again from the place we lived 14 years (our hometown as marrieds), I'm physically distanced from those with whom I grew up. I suppose emotionally distanced, too.
Some of you know I lost my own mother when I was nine; long-time readers know my father passed away more recently. His funeral was truly a celebration of his life, and I got to see family friends I hadn't seen since I was a child…there was much laughter through tears (one of my top two favorite emotions) as we remembered together. It was good.
It meant so much for me for people to carve out the time to attend his visitation and/or service that I was changed from that point forward: now, unless it's impossible, I go.
So I went. In a room full of my friend's father's colleagues, family and friend-strangers, I sat with two high school friends I haven't seen in years. We're all weathered and seasoned and carry baggage impossible to imagine back in our bulletproof days.
We learned some things we hadn't known about Mr. Fincher from those who knew him best. When you're a kid, there's always something mysterious–and sometimes intimidating–about your friends' fathers.
After the service, a friend and I hung out upstairs at Mr. Fincher's home; Mandy knew we were there and when she could, she escaped a few minutes to Just Be. And to be loved.
My point is simply to let you know it's significant to those who are grieving for you to be present with them. You don't have to say a lot, a hug speaks volumes. Presence matters in an era when emails replace hand-written cards and texts replace phone calls.
My experience with my father's death changed the way I thought; I hope my words here encourage you to always choose "to go" when you're in the same position. In so doing, you'll celebrate life in a beautiful way.