I’ve always wondered about my funeral. First, for any conversation to take place, two or more people will need to show. I’ve got two kids. They’ve got spouses, plus M might still be around, so I choose not to dwell on attendance. Rather, I wonder will people talk about the struggles? The challenges? Will they reminisce the antics? The time I slept through a gas leak and neighborhood evacuation? That time in the airport with the escalator ? Only a few close family members know that story. Will they laugh? I hope they will laugh.
If people laugh at my funeral, then, I will have lived a life
My first husband’s funeral was quiet, solemn. He died way too young. We were new in town. Moving boxes were still tucked in the corners of most rooms. So I threw a funeral in a majestic white Georgian with a large circular drive that was only a block from town.
When we arrived in our new home we didn’t look for a church. The cancer showed up the same week. It moved too swiftly. There was no time to look for a church. Without that connection, the only music at my husband’s funeral was a scratchy recording of a pipe organ that suggested Frankenstein lay somewhere in the bowels of the parlor’s dark basement. I hated that music. It suggested I had let my husband down. He deserved a party to celebrate his life.
Maybe my funeral hang up is because I should never have lived to see my thirtieth birthday. I was born with a congenital heart defect at a time when the only heart lung machine was a milk pump from a dairy farm and beer hose which hooked desperately ill children up to one of their parents as their only source of oxygen. (If neither parent was a viable option, compatible prisoners were offered time off to volunteer!) This system, cross-circulation, gave doctors 5 minutes to operate on a living, beating heart. Growing up, I remember the fear in my mother’s eyes whenever I pushed my limits. I wonder now if she ever contemplated my funeral during that time.
But I was one of the lucky ones. I was 24, a newlywed, before my heart began to fail. My first corrective surgery was the day before my 26th birthday.
Life is a challenge. Life is interesting. Life sometimes brings you to your knees in anguish and pain. But life is also full of blessings, joy and laughter. And I believe we have a choice – and I choose joy. I choose laughter.
Kids make me laugh. I’ve been blessed with two. And there’s M. Six weeks after my first husband died, I lay the local paper across the kitchen table and I asked, “Where do You want me to go?” And I felt led to a tiny little church that worshiped in a rented dank and dusty Mason’s Hall. M was one of the founding members of that church and his marriage had already dissolved before I arrived. During our first conversation, I knew God had plans for us as a couple – but that’s a blog post all it’s own. But the story still makes me laugh.
God is in the details and I believe He is in the details of the journey that’s about to unfold. M is approaching retirement. We are moving to the woods — the hills of New Hampshire, where my hope and prayer is that I will finish well.
Join me on this journey, where I will uplift and encourage and share lessons learned for those who have wondered,
Is this all there is? Is this what it means to finish well?