In the hyper-awareness that comes with loss, quite a few bittersweet moments have embossed themselves on my heart and memory. Snapshots of love, grief, and faith, gathered over the last two weeks.
I thought the dearly departed would have enjoyed some of them, were he watching. Perhaps he was.
My insights aren’t unique, I’m sure. Such bittersweet moments happen in families all the time. But I found comfort in writing them down. Considering them together, I realize that they tell a story that is as much about the departed as those he left behind.
I hope that by my sharing them, you’ll record a few of your own.
A pastor’s voice cracking, tears streaming down her face, as she pronounced, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Uttering the words, “His blood, shed for you,” siblings assume their father’s stewardship of the tiny church, assisting the pastor.
A granddaughter’s solo, poignant yet familiar, fills the space.
Throughout the tables crowded with people, white bread sandwiches and mayonnaise-based salads, laughter rings out in the midst of tears.
Intimate, Bittersweet Moments
The widow greets her recently widowed brother-in-law by her husband’s casket. Supported by cane and walker, their heads bend, foreheads resting against one another, tears flowing in shared loss. Others, turn tactfully away, granting them privacy in a crowd.
Ninety-two-year-old sister-in-law dips the bread in the chalice, intinction-style, then selects a communion cup of wine from the tray, taking it with her to her seat. Silent laughter through prayers and tears.
Six young adult grandchildren spread the funeral pall—symbol of the resurrection—over the casket together, with help from the six-year old great grandchild. Somber under their mantle as earthly evidence of his legacy of love and family.
Then, with the two youngest in the lead, the grandchildren move the casket to the chancel, ushering their beloved grandfather to the gates of heaven.
After the service, grandchildren slip flowers out of their gardner-grandfather’s funeral blanket, transferring them to their great-grandparents’ stone, giving homage to ancestors whose memories have faded, yet still transcend.
Great-grand child selecting yet another stone to grace with a flower, because it might make someone happy. Hugs, smiles and laughter through the tears.
Widow, now matriarch, offers to pay for dinner. Grandchildren confer, then cough up tens and twenties. Provider becomes the protected.
Grandsons and their uncles, awkwardly making their way through the grass and grave markers, struggling with the weight of their burden. Carrying the load. Together.
Grandson occupies the driver’s seat, ready to chauffeur his grandmother to the grave-side service, accidentally pops the hood. Laughter, through our tears.
Café tables pulled together and food and beverages shared, loved ones sit, heads together in small groups, telling stories they’ve all told and heard before. Laughter through the tears.
Helpful offspring, stripping beds, not realizing their siblings had already done the same. Laughter, despite the heaviness of heart.
A solitary face in the window, waving goodbye.
His gifts of faith, family, storytelling, and laughter keep giving.