Last night, at the funeral home (I’m not sure the word parlor sounds any better than home to me in this context) from the back of the room, I was thumbing through my friend’s wedding album trying to figure out how we were going to approach the casket, overcome with the reality of what was happening. I was thinking about the day of their marriage, the day captured in those pictures. Their youthfulness. The hope encased in that super ornate photo album and on the faces of everyone.
At the casket, I peered in to see her and noticed she was wearing a watch she always wore and I gestured at it to my spouse, being unable to breathe or speak. It is very hard to see a person who is no longer alive. It is both difficult to be there at their passing and to see them later on, when the mortuary has done their work, but is it ever important to see them, to be there!
The closure is priceless. It helps seal that up in your head once and for all. It is indisputable. Let’s face it together, the dying part is not easy, but the living on afterwards is really difficult.
At the wake, it wasn’t the traditional set up with the family at the front receiving the visitors. It was a come as you are kind of approach. I looked to my left at a girl who rose up from the front pew and walked over to the casket and put her hand upon it, glancing in at the woman, as though checking on her. I noticed they were wearing the same long necklace – a piece of circular metalwork on a long chain. This was her daughter, 10 years old, facing the loss of her mother. We looked at each other and my voice would not speak. Sometimes it is all in the eyes.
Later, at home, I sat outside while I grilled some dinner for the family and got bit by mosquitoes and read her prayer card over. It was a passage from Romans about death having no more dominion over us because of Christ’s conquering of it.
It is enough to know that the strong, positive woman who fought these diseases with every single bit of her might was no longer under the dominion of the pain and suffering. And I believe the Divine has custody of her now.