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Recently I attended the funeral of my friend's mother. It was a bitterly cold, snowy day, and I remarked to Greg that I hoped my funeral was sunny. His opinion was that the weather seemed appropriate for the somber event. I didn't agree with that idea until I stood grave side, watching the family pay their last respects.

As I watched, I was keenly aware of the heat of my body, despite the cold. I was moving, crunching the snow beneath my feet, and looking down I could see the tips of the grass poking through. I could see my breath. I could hear the delicate chimes of the bells the grandchildren were ringing. I could see the soft and lush pink roses and the acres of glistening white snow around us. And my feelings were with my friend, as she grieved a mother and dealt with the roller coaster of emotions a funeral incites. I watched a family full of differences and disagreements put their arms around each other in comfort. It was one of those spiritual moments of presence, made vivid by the harsh reality of the cold, and of death.

As I gingerly made my way through the snow back to my car, I looked at the other gravestones, each one wrapped in its own blanket of snow. All those people once were moving about, creating their own puffs of breath, making their own heat, feeling the bite of the cold in their fingers. As I contemplated this, I could not regret the weather, because I could feel it. I could experience it. And I could know that the snow would eventually melt, and all that water would propel the beauty of a summer to come. A summer of color and heat and clear skies that I would get to enjoy. I hope that's what heaven is; and yet would summer be heaven if we didn't experience winter?

Death is sad, and always so near. But it's also a presence that walks beside us and whispers, "This too shall pass. Your time here is a gift." It is a testament of our feeling, loving hearts that we don't want to say goodbye. Our knowledge of death can make everything so much sweeter. Sunshine, glittering snow, good food, friends, family, a beautiful song. Every hug is a little tighter, every kiss lingers longer, every sunrise a ritual of celebration and joy and gratitude. All of it becomes so precious and not to be taken for granted because of the reality of death.

Of course these are my thoughts as an observer to the experience. I've yet to have death visit me in a way that has been deeply personal. I wished I'd had great words to comfort my friend. I wished I had the certainty to say I knew what lay beyond death, and that heaven was real and it was endless summer with everyone you ever loved. Without that certainty, life has become a beautiful and bitter sweet song, like an epic ballad with jovial parts and sad parts. High and low notes, discordant notes too. But a song all the same. And I'm so grateful just to hear it, and that the music of this friend has been added to the symphony.

A quote from one of my favorite books that says it better than I can:
"His voice [death] is cold at first, John. It seems unfeeling. But if you listen without fear, you find that when he speaks, the most ordinary words become poetry. When he stands close to you, your life becomes a song, a praise. When he touches you, your smallest talents become gold; the most ordinary loves break your heart with their beauty."
― Martine Leavitt, Keturah and Lord Death

Last modified: 2019-04-21 12:39:37


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Name: Lord Voldemort (325 weeks, 6 days ago)
So finally you understand the beauty of the Death Eater movement. :)
Name: Travis (325 weeks, 4 days ago)
Thanks, Hillary.
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