(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 10/1/10)
Yesterday I attended a funeral.
Now I promise to try not to get morbid or unduly sad on you, dear Blog-Friend, but I feel it warrants mentioning because it’s often during these sorts of circumstances that one has moments of clarity. The funeral was for a woman I had never met – she was the mother of a dear friend of Adam’s – but I wanted to be there to show my support for the family.
The internment ceremony – held at the celebrated and oft-filmed Hollywood Forever Cemetery – was attended by just of few members of the family and close friends and officiated by a comfortingly gregarious Irish priest (complete with brogue!). It was short and simple, but not without depth of feeling. She had been married for nearly 70 years (!) and her husband, our friend’s father – was quite beside himself with the loss. I had not anticipated having a strong emotional response myself, but seeing how much he (and everyone else) was missing her, I was moved to the point of needing a few tissues myself. 70 years with someone. 70 years. Most of us will never know what it’s like to even know someone for 70 years, let alone at that level of intimacy. All the stories. All of those life moments shared, both good and bad. I felt privileged, in some way, to be there while they said goodbye to her.
All those in attendance spent the day together, and I had several opportunities to talk with my friend’s father and share his memories not only of the times he spent with her, but of a lifetime totalling almost 90 years. The Battle of Midway. Traveling across China. How downtown LA has changed in the last 60 years. At one point towards the end of the night, he asked me “do you love yourself?”. A pause before answering, “I think so.” And encouragement to stay positive.
Other friends have had losses of loved ones recently, and it’s in these moments that we realize, however cliched it may sound, that life is precious, and short, and the only thing fear and hesitation brings is regret. How I hope to remember that lesson daily.
My friend’s father’s place next to his wife in the mausoleum already bears his name and epitaph, taken from a phrase he saw at a convent in Italy:
Me Today, You Tomorrow
How true, how important to remember, and how difficult to comprehend.