Last Saturday we went to the saddest funeral I had ever been too, bar none, and that includes my own father’s funeral. Funerals are always sad, of course, and though I completely agree with the creole idea of celebrating life once you leave the cemetery, the reality is that the prevailing feelings at a funeral are those of loss, and grief and helplessness. In this case, the prevailing feeling was probably also disbelief. The Husband’s cousin E was my age, 35, she had a 7 month old baby boy, a loving husband of just a few short years, a doting brother and parents who loved her more than anything. She was born and raised in the same small town as The Husband. To say the church was packed would be an understatement of massive proportions. All the seats were taken, and all the remaining space was standing room only. And everybody was distraught. I had only briefly met her once, and it was still heart wrenching. Her passing was completely unexpected, she had a brain tumor, her symptoms started less than a month ago, and she died a few days after the diagnosis. Enough said. As I was sitting in the church I looked at her parents and thought of their grief and I started praying for protection for my kids, please God don’t let this happen to them…. And then I thought, it’s not like E's mother didn’t have the exact same feelings as me, she must have thought and prayed the same way for her kids a hundred times, in fact all mothers pray that their kids grow old, happy and healthy and loved. So, really, what’s the point? Well, I know it sounds trite and unbelievably simplistic but I realized the following: we can really only count on the present moment, so we HAVE TO enjoy it and savor it, and be thankful for it, we don’t know what the future holds so we can’t put anything important off for later, be it a kiss, a hug, a trip, a conversation… so when The Boy asks me to play ball when I’m cooking dinner, I now decide it’s ok to eat ten minutes later and go play ball.
And then I looked at her husband, he was neither crying nor talking, he may not even really have been there. And I thought of all the plans they had, the hopes and dreams for their future, for their child and how now he has to navigate through it all alone. Alone with his baby. Having kids is hard enough as it is when there are two parents to carry the burden, and he has no one who is as invested as him to discuss things with, to share the good and the bad and the great.
It is unimaginably sad. The saddest part is that, as anyone who has lost someone knows, you never stop missing the person you lost. Grief does get easier to handle, it slowly passes and gives way to sadness and hopefully down the line to nostalgia. But still, for the rest of their lives, her husband, and brother and parents are going to think of her and wish she was there, and they will always be sad for the loss. And her son will always pine for the mother he never knew. And that is heartbreaking.