On Tuesday I attended the funeral of a neighbor, a man who died of a stroke at 79, someone who had been active in the community, raised several children, a man who was friendly and outgoing. He will be missed, not only by his family but by the community he served.
As I was there at the funeral service, a Catholic Mass, I was struck by how different it is to have a funeral for someone who has lived a long, full life, who has raised children, enjoyed grandchildren, contributed to many organizations, had a host of friends, and someone like Leif who was only 33 and had none of those things. There is an additional and burdensome sadness in knowing he never had them and never will, in realizing that so much was missed.
These people, at least outwardly, all were so sure of their belief in the afterlife and what it would mean, while Leif was a nonbeliever and I think that if there is an afterlife, it is vastly different than our imaginings of it.
The funeral made me profoundly sad for a couple of days, and no matter how many times I told myself how fortunate I am, in so many ways, and to count my blessings, not just mourn for what I have lost, I could not shake it, but then I started to come out of that low place and appreciate the beauty around me. The full moon last night. The lovely sunset. My home. My wonderful husband. My son. My grandchildren.
It's funny how a small and unusual thing can give you a lift. This evening, I stepped into the garage to check whether Peter had closed the garage door when he left. He hadn't, but before I could press the button to close it, a little brown wren flew in, perched for just a tiny moment at the back of the garage, and then flew back out again. I knew we had wrens somewhere in our bushes, but I rarely see them, and never that close or in the garage. It was something sweet and precious, that moment, and it made me think of all the moments gone by that I can remember with love and joy . . . even if their memory also brings sadness that they will never come again.
This photo of me and Leif was taken on July 20, 2004 at the dining room table of our old stone house in Manhattan, Kansas. It was a wonderful evening, one of those warm memories. Peter A. was there with his family. Leif's friend Michael was there to visit. We decided to use Peter W's German beer steins. Leif, Peter A. and Michael had provided a supply of interesting and unusual beers for all of us to try (Leif, the beer connoisseur), and we were telling stories and jokes, laughing, taking pictures. It was one of the happiest evenings with the family together, one of those memories to be treasurered. I am showing Leif a photo I took with my camera, and this one was taken by Peter W.