Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Funeral musings

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Somebody’s dad died this week. Phil was 96, in poor health, and his death wasn’t unexpected. His wife of 65 years said he was ready, that he had seen angels in his hospital room. He was deeply faithful and his family is comforted by that.

It’s only in the past year that I’ve reconnected with his youngest son through Facebook, and it’s only through Facebook that I heard the news of his failing health. And then the death. Funeral arrangements were in my home town, and I made plans to attend. I couldn’t not attend.

He was the father of my best friend from junior high and high school, my college roommate, my peer in the business world after we graduated. My only contact with her parents for the past twenty-four years has been Christmas cards, each of us sending newsy letters about the previous year. And then last year I read that their youngest son’s wife had died unexpectedly and I wrote back asking for an address for him. And that lead to Facebook communication with him.

So I went to the funeral, introduced myself to the oldest daughter, hugged the wife and both sons. The person I most wanted to hug was my old best friend. But I couldn’t because she wasn’t there. You see, the last time I had seen any of these people was twenty-four years ago at Sallie’s funeral. She died from an aggressive leukemia when she was 36.

I can’t say that I still think of her every day. But I think about her a lot. And I was talking to her inside my head during the entire service for her dad. I was looking at her older sister and picturing Sallie as she might look at age sixty. Sixty! The age we both should be right now. But I can only remember her as she was at my wedding when we were both 34. Or how she was the last time I saw her a couple weeks before she died.

She would have liked to be turning sixty. Unlike me who is struggling a bit with that number, she would have embraced it, planned an adventure, charged right toward it. Her sister thanked me for coming to the funeral, ‘representing Sallie.’ I don’t think I was representing her so much as honoring her along with her dad. They were both fine human beings. I miss her. I know her siblings will be missing them both.

This family has been through a lot of loss, more than just this recent loss and the loss of their daughter and sister so long ago. But they are strong. Strong in their love for each other and strong in their belief that those in the family who have gone ahead are all together, and will greet each of them when their time comes.

At the cemetery an honor guard folded the flag that had draped the casket and gave it to Phil’s wife. I glanced up at the sky and saw the clouds forming a huge heart right above the tent. I’m pretty sure it was Sallie and her dad comforting us and letting us all know we are loved.

And then taps played and I began to cry all over again.

Imported Photos 00774

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Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

14 thoughts on “Funeral musings

  1. Your lovely post is a beautiful tribute to love and loss.

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    • Thank you Carol. I think I was mourning Sallie all over again. And sad that she had lost 24 years with her family. And wishing we had had those years as well. And of course feeling sad because they will miss their dad.

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  2. What a heartfelt post! We are all coming to grips with our mortality. And feeling the sadness of loss. My thoughts are with you.

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  3. Reading this slowed me down and made me thankful yet again for friends no longer with me — though I will always wish they were still alive. One who died at 30 would have been 53 this month. Another died the same year as the first, he at 40, after infection following a very “routine” surgery. But the depth of our missing departed friends is a measure of what they added to our lives. Thanks for reminding me of that this morning, Dawn.

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    • Yes, it doesn’t seem fair does it, when people die so young. Sallie certainly felt she had been cheated. And the last two years were so difficult. Also not fair. But you are right…she must have added a ton to my life for me to miss her so much still.

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  4. Dawn, I’m sorry to read of your loss, but you’ve written a beautiful tribute here. I guess one day, we’ll understand how come some seem to be taken from us too soon, how come some families seem to be grieving way more than others. For now, perhaps it’s enough that we comfort the sad and allow others to comfort us. After all, death is just the entrance into eternity.

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  5. hi Dawn, once again you have written with such clarity and described an event in your life in a way that is universal so beautifully. i loved how surprised i was to read that Sallie was no longer living on this earth, because you made her seem so present. your writing is very evocative and i enjoy reading about your musings.

    i loved hearing about the heart in the sky, saying i love you across all time and space.

    thank you, bess

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    • Thank you Bess. I think about her often enough that sometimes she does seem still present. I guess she is in a way. I loved the heart in the sky too.

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  6. Hugs, Dawn. Simply that.

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  7. I am sorry for your loss. You were so kind to reach out to your friend’s family. Don has been gone over 20 years and I think of my friend almost every day, we never forget.

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