Thursday, May 2, 2013
a funeral in April
It's a blustery, cold day in Georgia.Weather perfect for a funeral which we attended this morning.This was a Mass for a church friend who we have known for over thirty years.He had battled cancer for years ,miraculously surviving pancreatic cancer, only to see it return five years later in another form.It was a sad but hopeful ceremony as Christian funerals are.My thoughts went back to another time and another death.
It was a bright April day in 1965 and as I was driving past the college I attended ,on my way to student teach,when something strange happened.It was a warm spring day and I had my car windows down when the strong scent of Canoe, an after-shave lotion, filled the car.This happened a few months after the end of a tumultous reIationship.Once a month however, my former boyfriend would come by and we'd go out for the evening.There was a connection.It was his aftershave that I smelled.The scent seemed so strong that I looked around the area I was driving past to see if anyone had just walked by.No one.Later that day,a mutual friend came to my door to tell me that my beautiful Irish former boyfriend had died the previous evening in an auto accident on Sunrise Highway. He was 21.
So many memories of the wake and funeral.One thing stood out.In the thank you note sent by the family for my presence throughout that hard April week, my boyfriend's sister wrote this."We would not call him back if we could.He is where we all long to be."What faith, which I did not then have.
Soon after the burial,I was to write a paper for a Sociology class about the customs of a tribe we were studying.I focused on funerals and how this tribe(which I cannot recall) honored their dead by stabbing themselves,shrieking for days and various despairing rituals.I compared this to the dignity and hope of those who believe in Christ as evidenced by the Sullivan family.I knew that I was being extraordinarily subjective but I wanted to honor what I saw in some way.It was not a scientific paper but the professor must have sensed my deep feeling about what I wrote and gave me an A.
And so I observed again the sadness,the loss ,the family holding each other together but also the
surety in their eyes of this:"This world is the land of the dying;the next is the land of living".Tryon Edwards