Saturday, March 29, 2014

How the heartrending can hearten

A funeral is never easy. It's that potentially stifling moment in time when one is caught in a net that's one part necessity and nine parts resistance.

The bald inescapable truth is that one day that will be you they're coming to mourn. You they're coming to bury.

If you're seeing beloved family members for the first time in a long time, or even if you just had coffee with them last week, there are smiles through the tears.


After all, life -- even when it's long -- is short, and these are our human touchstones, and opportunities to be together are at a premium. Numbered, as it were, like our days.

Some may themselves be not long for this world.

Out at the cemetery there are awkward moments when the weight of the actual burden is as much metaphysical as it is metaphorical.


There are smiles of relief that the hard part is nearly over. Perhaps a time of relaxation, fellowship, and good food is to follow.

These are things we comprehend more readily than the concept of death.

Besides, grief makes us hungry. We are after all still kicking, and we require nourishment.

But first there are last moments, lingerings, reluctant leave-takings to be got through.


There is the uneasy feeling that we are abandoning the person whose life and existence we came to remember, to honor, and to celebrate.

Sometimes a face, an expression, a freight of emotion, captures us as it leaks through the facade created by so much formality.


A man stands bereft and uncertain beside the casket of his mother. A child's eyes are too large in its pale face. A mother's voice trembles as she bears the unbearable.

Then there are the long looks back as we gain the perspective of distance, our footsteps leaving no trace of us on the trackless manicured grass.

We go our way before the hole is filled, before the dirt is tossed back. We don't see that part but still, if hearts could tremble, ours would.


On a bright day our eyes water; on a gray day they mist. We aren't sure what is tears and what is dew and what is dust.

All we know is that there are closings afoot. Closed. The subject is closed.

We will move on, wake to new days, marvel anew at life's joys and vagaries. But even at the funeral, if we tune in, we may be heartened by the heartrending.

Because if only for this day, we are alive. And with life comes hope, and with hope comes opportunity, and with opportunities come lovely and often unexpected results.

1 comment:

Sally said...

Your writing is always so beautiful, Jenny. This brought back a lot of memories from the past. Thank you for that. xoxo