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On Weddings and Funerals

In preparation for my Mom’s memorial (funeral) service, I wrote out more than a dozen pieces, trying to figure out just what to say. Once it was determined I was the one who would be sharing the message, I prayed and pondered how to sum up 42 years of MY memories with a woman who lived 26 full years of life even before my arrival to this earth. My Dad said he wanted me to share but with one stipulation: I couldn’t say “pissed off”. I asked, Where have you EVER heard me say that?” He informed me that it wasn’t only my Mom who had listened to my radio show several years ago, but he did, too, and he heard me say it. I assured him, “Dad, don’t worry…I won’t say ‘pissed off’ at Mom’s service…but I’ll probably drop an ‘eff’ bomb…” (*if you could only be a fly on the wall of our family’s inappropriate sense of humor…at all the inappropriate times…hey, laughter is good medicine.)

Except I didn’t drop an ‘eff bomb. The problem is, whenever I speak publicly, no matter how many hours of preparation and rehearsal are poured into it, I still get nervous out of the gates, then warm up after a few minutes. And my Dad said I couldn’t cuss, and it wasn’t a wedding where I had already had half a glass of wine to relax, so my usual alternative is a joke to lighten people up… (*Hello!? remember WHY people have asked me to speak publicly over the past 8 years…because my son died…and people always think it’s going to be sad, even though it’s not…I need a new platform…just sayin’…) But it was my Mom’s memorial service, so without cussing, wine, or a good joke, I awkwardly fumbled and barely scratched the surface to only ONE of the angles I wanted to go in sharing about my Mom and her impact on my life.

Then, of freaking course, I left my computer in the other room with all of my notes and ended up winging it…but whatever.

After I worked out my nervous kinks, I was so glad to be sharing at my Mom’s service. I’m very comfortable not only sharing my heart candidly but sharing about death. I think funerals, (and talking about dying and death) are kind of important, I mean, especially since everybody dies and all. Yet we avoid the topic like the plague, as if that keeps it at bay, and don’t even plan services until a person has died.

You see, I don’t think weddings and funerals are really all that different. In both cases we celebrate a sacred love shared between two key players. Weddings are a blissful time where there is all the time in the world, seemingly. Funeral are the bittersweet reminder that God holds the number of our days in His hands…life is short this side of eternity, living with intention is key, and that even though those of us left over will be sad, it’s momentary, and the gathering of people to celebrate the one who has died is truly an opportunity to share joy! And, baby, my Mom loved a good party, especially the pretty decorations! Music, stories, food, and tears are present in both scenarios…and if it’s a funeral, there is most certainly dancing going on, too, though we just aren’t able to see it.

Some of our Mom's blue and white china on display at the party...
Some of our Mom’s blue and white china on display at the party…
Some of our Mom's blue and white china on display at the party...a friend made the "It is well with my soul" placard for my birthday earlier this year...
Some of our Mom’s blue and white china on display at the party…a friend made the “It is well with my soul” placard for my birthday earlier this year…

Anyway…I can honestly say, I’m not sad for her. I don’t grieve without hope. There is a vast difference between grief and despair. Grief is a true emotion meant to be expressed over great loss, and for me, the loss of my Mom’s physical presence in my life is great because I loved her dearly and was loved unconditionally by her, but I’m not sitting in the corner of my closet, hopeless and in despair. I know it’ll hit me in the thighs in a few weeks when things “wind down”, I realize I can’t carb-load anymore, and the reality hits that she’s not on a trip with my Dad, out of cellular range, so that’s why she isn’t calling…believe me, I’ve already wanted to ask her something specific and the answer is gone, with her.

photo 3

photo 2
The little Dutch house is part of a canister set she put flour, sugar, tea, and coffee in over the years.
These miniature Calle Lilies were so gorgeous, I couldn't pass them up! We did almost all of the flowers ourselves except for a few beautiful bouquets friends and family sent to the church.
These miniature Calle Lilies were so gorgeous, I couldn’t pass them up! We did almost all of the flowers ourselves except for a few beautiful bouquets friends and family sent to the church.

God gave me a vision of my Mom while she was alive but on her last full day of life, and this as I sat behind her ailing body, rubbing her back as she tried to breathe…she was sitting on the edge of something and had her head turned, looking back at me over her shoulder. She was alive and young and vibrant and her smile was one so wide and beaming, I had never seen one quite like it captured in any photograph. Her eyes were bright and so alive and the look on her face was that of anticipation and excitement for what was before her, more glory than she had ever known…and then she danced with all of her might, and I could no longer see her…

Because apparently dancing takes place not only at weddings, but also in the midst of sacred encounters…

3 thoughts on “On Weddings and Funerals

  1. How many things you touched on that spoke volumes to me. As I was praying during her memorial, I kept thinking of the line from a Jackson Browne song, “I know you would rather we were dancing…”. It just lingered in me. She deserved a special send off because she was a singularly unique person, part of why she drew many people to her and their affection remained so strong for so many years. Bebe was the ultimate hostess – loved to serve and greet you at the door, make you comfortable, have the house looking great and the table settings with her stamp of personality all over, a huge WELCOME! in everything she and Bobby did. She was inclusive and sincere with few limits, that was her nature. I would be quietly watching and making sure no one fooled with the Waterford too cavalierly, yet happy that you were there. The differences amused me. The photos from her memorial are very lovely for the reason that they represent a small glimpse into this woman’s vast presence…her blue china…the tablecloths and brilliant flowers (hey! I thought we weren’t suppose to send flowers!)…the words and symbols that spoke of her elegant lifetime on this earth and the vision given to you of her as she would soon appear in eternity…such sacred encounters that make up days of heaven on earth. And each morning and night, I can hear Bebe’s last words on film, “Find out what Jesus wants you to do and be found doing it!” Just as she did when she lived amongst us.

  2. Ade,
    Your words are beautiful.
    With lots of love,
    Susan
    PS. Someday I will get to hear you speak (I will sneak you a glass of wine for sure!)

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