I’m not sure I have the answer. But having just attended the funeral Mass of someone who was an important part of my life—someone who I felt it was an honor and a privilege to know, I’ve been thinking a lot about that question.
Losing someone who has played a significant role in our lives is not easy. I don’t want to just forget them and move on. Nor do I want to mourn their loss and forget how vibrant they were.
Time helps. Pain and loss lessen with time; life and you move on. But how do you do that and not forget?
People have energy and that energy impacts us. It is the stuff that allows us to bond and develop relationships. So I’m wondering what is the best way to keep that energy alive so it continues to nurture us.
At Dean Morton’s funeral at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine there were a few times when there was no question that Jim’s energy was present.
As the service began, there was an explosion of drums that filled the enormous Cathedral and brought life into the space—Jim’s life. There was no question that the extraordinary energy that was The Very Reverend James Parks Morton was present at that moment in the Cathedral. As the Mass concluded and the procession began to leave the building, there was another outburst from the drums. There he was and now he was leaving. As the family walked out, the sound of Paul Winter playing his familiar saxophone filled the space with a sound that brought such joyous memories to all of us who had spent time in the Cathedral with Jim.
The second time we felt Jim's palpable presence was when he was eulogized through stories that brought him to life. The energy that connected us to Jim was alive and we delighted in it. Memories of his quirkiness, his sense that everything was possible, and his inability to understand the meaning of the word "no" made us certain our connection was real and allowed us to savor in that enchantment.
A few years ago I attended the funeral of a man I had never met. I was there because he was a friend of my husband. Listening to the stories of his life felt very personal and very private. I didn’t know the man but I was experiencing who he was in such a profound way that I felt I was intruding. As we approached the family to express our condolences, I had the strange feeling that I, too, had known this man.
The person we are saying goodbye to may no longer be accessible to us in the form we are used to, but their energy and our memories are still there, and it turns out that the stories we tell ourselves and the rituals we reproduce are key for us not needing to say goodbye—and for that I am very grateful.
What about you?
How do you remember the people you've lost?
Let me know; we’d love to hear.
"Each day provides it’s own gifts." Marcus Aurelius
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