I looked at this long and hard before deciding it should be published on my blog. I have altered the reminiscence below by removing irrelevant personal information included in the original text.
HAPPY TIMES appear like stratum in the grain of fine marble, where the entire slab characterizes life. It may grab our hearts as we run our fingers fondly along those seams and recall the love we bring to mind.
Happy thoughts are beautiful. They raise us up in cascading moments that tied together by time, follow us as we conduct our lives. That same slab will also have different colors or textures within its seams and in those memories live pain and loss.
We remember pain and pleasure as part of life’s interwoven fabric. It reminds us that the wonders of life include their antithesis. Such contrasts will always be so. Where there is yin, so also must there be yang.
Telescoped into a few short weeks, the fragility of life and consequences of death have visited our family a number of times.
On November 30, Eileen, recent wife of Dave, a neighbor, passed because of liver cancer. She was 70 years old. She had lived between Belgium and the U. S. for only a year and a half, married Dave and moved to America. Now Dave had lost his second soul mate, much too early. On December 29, our community’s Public Hall held a memorial function to honor her memory.
On December 23, Jim, our son-in-law’s father succumbed, consumed by melanoma. The funeral service filled St. Anthony’s Church on January 3 in the new year. There followed another Celebration of a Life, held in the basement of the church.
Peggy, a writer and friend, died during the first week in January and her funeral service at St. Anthony’s filled the church, standing room only. Ten years before she had been a member of The Litchfield Writers Guild, a labor of love conducted by this writer since its inception in 2003. Wheelchair bound because polio had afflicted Peg for many years, she eventually had to leave, but not before we had enjoyed her many contributions. Her daughter Roberta sponsored her Celebration of a Life service at the Litchfield Community Center where our group met and where she is Executive Director.
On January 11, Mary, a longtime friend of my wife’s mother and of our family died after battling breast cancer for fourteen years. She shined as an example of courage for the community. Her funeral service, again at St. Anthony’s, the third time in two weeks, occurred on January 14. Her Celebration of a Life was held at the local firehouse.
I do not look forward to more deaths, but at least two people close to me are increasingly frail and the inevitability of more funerals, accompanied by more “celebrations” has become an expectation.
End of life affects only the living. The dead don’t care. Memorial services serve to bookmark people’s minds so they will remember a passing.
It saddens me that life must end, but it must. It is odd, I think, that such an event as the death of another has become the reason for this retired man’s sudden need for two-piece suits, but I shall remember it that way. It is like the quirk of a lip, a somewhat positive way to look at sad times…and perhaps to cope.