It seems so easy to withdraw from relationships, life, moments. So easy to pretend that memories weren’t made in the name of love and friendship. It’s so easy, but it shouldn’t be.
It shouldn’t be okay to show caring attention to the details of someone’s life when they’re lying on sick beds and the family has been summoned. Then we kick our interest in gear. We want to know the details of why and how. We want to find out who was to blame for the current state of affairs. It shouldn’t be okay, but it is.
Funeral homes and churches packed as we gaze at the stiff over-dressed bodies, that have been vacated by the spirits of our “loved ones.” We’re so eager to rush to the mic and speak of our fondest memories, list the things shared and impact made. This is not the time, or the place to prove our love...but too often it is and ... it’s too late.
I have attended my fair share of funerals in my lifetime, and I’m always irritated at the parade of people rushing down the side aisles of the church and waiting in line with others who proclaim to have known the deceased the best. One by one, the anxious witnesses approach the podium, grip the mic with fervent determination and begin to illuminate on things long past. The speaker is instructed to limit their reflections to no more than two minutes, yet even as they nod their understanding those of us in the pews know too well that the two-minute instruction will soon be forgotten. I can’t help but wonder, why, as I sit, well aware that the bench beneath me was made without any forethought that it would be inadequate to keep me and the others comfortable during times like these.
Two minutes have passed, my butt is aching and still, the speeches of love and respect are at a fever pitch; one trying to out due the previous. I wonder if such effort was made to make sure the dearly departed heard and received the flowers while they were alive and healthy enough to hear, smell and receive them. I can only imagine what it would have felt like to have been held in such high regard while they were still breathing. Hmmm...
I sat at the bedsides of both of my parents during their final days and I found myself doing an internal inventory. Did I make them proud did I disappoint them? Did I say all the things that needed to be said? I loved my parents beyond what made sense, but I wondered if I really let them know. I’m sure they knew when I was upset with them, but I wonder if they knew that most times, I was happy and honored to be their daughter. Did they know that I felt so unworthy and that I was certain that I had let them down? I knew their hopes were so high and so were their expectations...did they forgive me before they took their last breaths?
If I could do it all again. Funny, I think that’s what we are all trying to do when we stand at that podium at that homegoing service. We’re pleading for that second chance, that do-over. We need to publicly declare what we failed to declare during those private moments when there was no one else watching. Our shame and regret prompt us to stand and work our way down the side aisle and stand patiently waiting our turn to say the things that will never be heard by the only one who needed to hear it. It’s too late.
What would happen if our family and friends meant more to us than our egos and fragile feelings? What if we entered into relationships without an option to leave? Perhaps we would be required to adjust and re-evaluate, but we were committed to not cast each other off like last night’s garbage, as if there were other people standing in line to move into those places in our hearts that were already occupied. Evicting people from our hearts and our lives for no apparent reason to the evicted, makes us nothing but slum lords because what we claim to be protecting is nothing, but a wasteland filled with our own garbage that made love and life and peace impossible. We blame everyone else and refuse to take ownership. We convince ourselves that we are the prize even in our broken, messed up, prideful state and it should be a privilege to be in our lives, right? We need to believe that; we have to believe that because we have to be right anything else would destroy us...right?
It’s too late to change the past, too late to speak words of love and appreciation to the dead but there are others who we’ve turned away from, stopped speaking to, stopped showing love to and others we’ve forgotten that if they had not been in our lives even for a little while, things could have been a lot worse. We need to say, I’m sorry. We need to say, forgive me and we need to be honest that it’s nobody’s fault but our own, before it’s too late.
About the Creator
I adore words and I love what happens when we grab them, sleep with them, holler and scream and laugh at them! I love what happens when we throw them in the air and watch them fall magically from our minds onto paper!