Thank you for being here, at my funeral today.
Here among one another, gathered together to celebrate and mourn the finality of my life; where you each came and touched me and I touched you, in one way or another. Thank you for that, by the way.
If I hadn’t gotten around to telling you how much you mean to me—which of course, I hope I do at every chance I get—I hope you will immerse in that feeling today. In the gratitude, the love, the connection we shared. You matter to me. Your presence in my life, however brief our time may have been, impacted my soul, my heart, my being.
There was nobody else in my life like you.
Thank you for being a unique, brilliant, precious jewel that lit up my life. I was better for having known you. Please take that message with you from this time here: you are loved.
I want you all to take a moment and look around the room at one another. Really. Look around.
Did you notice the person to your left, how their eyes sparkled? Or how about the man sitting three people over from you on either side, his brow furrowed from the years of carrying the same weight we each carry, but his smile is restful, gracious and curious. Did you see the children who are here who did not know me at all, who have no idea that their presence is an ongoing ray of light in what can sometimes be a dim experience? Did you see?
When you look around, did you notice how many people you’ve seen through the years, at functions such as this? Perhaps more occasion for joy than for loss; to be reunited with the those that when you see them, you smile and say (and actually mean) ‘We should get together more often!’, and ‘I think about you.’ and ‘How are the kids?’ and ‘What’s new in your life?’.
They say funerals are for the living. What an opportunity today presents, this moment in your precious, unrepeatable life—the one I have seceded from—take these moments you have, here and now. Look around you and really see.
Before you know it, it will be your turn to transition, and nobody knows (but now I do) what that new moment will be like in the in-between. Don’t let that happen without tasting the sweet delight that is being present with one another. When you look around the room, acknowledge within yourself and to one another, the commonality among you all—you each loved me at one time or another, either by chance or biology, and more importantly you were each loved by me, deeply.
I hoped I would know what to say at my own funeral.
I always seemed so talkative in my own life, as if I didn’t know when to stop the words, or thoughts, or feelings, or sensation, or wonder. I want to believe I learned balance eventually, through life as I lived and learned it. I hope that the mistakes I made served my being here, though I prefer to consider them lessons. If you were one of those who I hurt along the way, I’m truly sorry. If I failed to make amends with you, prior to me laying here today, I hope you will consider accepting my apology now.
Of course if you can’t, it’s no skin off my back, feel free to trash talk me after the services, when you’re mingling with everyone over cocktails. I just had to cover myself, in case I missed anyone who might be ready to forgive me.
I worked hard to give up the guilt I carried. It nearly crushed me at times, and you…each of you: the ones who stepped in and took care of and loved me despite my shortcomings—thank you.
Thank you for showing me love when I needed it most, so that I eventually learned to provide that love for myself. I hope I repaid the favor to you. I hope, in my lifetime I was able to accurately reflect how magnificent, how deeply and how profoundly you awe, inspire and amaze me.
This next little part is for my daughter Shekinah.
Everyone else, please listen as these words are read. I invite you to bear witness to this woman’s strength and her mother’s undying love for her. Hold space for more of this kind of love in our world. All of us deserve that.
While there are never words I could give you that would condense my love or devotion to you, I will attempt however, though meekly it may appear. What are the words that could wrap up a life? Has anything ever been created, in prose, in song, in art—that can ever represent the unescapable wonder?
Shekinah, you are nothing short of a miracle. I love you more than I have ever loved another human being, but you know that now, with children of your own.
Remember how I used to tell you whenever we fought and then tearfully made up, that you were my whole heart walking around outside my body and that I was always doing the best that I knew how, and I had never been a mom to a 5 or 11 or 14 or 15 or 16 or 17 year old, and I would ask you to forgive my shortcomings? Thank you for giving me that. For loving me through it all. You pulled me into my life, gave me purpose, gave me drive, gave me undeniable responsibility that would end up shaping me into the woman I always knew I was. You were my catalyst in becoming my own hero.
It may feel to your sensibilities now, that I am gone from you. Let your heart guide those experiences though, more than your logical mind; I am with you always. Your grief may overtake you at times; a large overpowering wave of emotions that will flood over you at the strangest, most inappropriate times.
That’s okay Punkin, let it.
Let yourself feel those potent, frightening emotions. Sit with them and watch them rise, I promise you, they will also fade away. The experience of sitting with them will be a gift I would love to bestow upon you, as my final request as your mom. Let your mourning open your heart even wider than it was before. You are capable of containing so much more than you can imagine, let’s discover this heart space together.
The truth is, I am still with you and you are with me. We are connected in a way that only mother-daughter can be. There will never be another bond like we shared in your lifetime, which can seem devastating if you think about it long enough.
But, my sweet darling, you can enhance that bond with your own children. Use what we shared and spread it among them. I am writing about grandchildren I have yet to meet in my own life. Writing this from a position of having met them and having died myself, and yet as I sit here typing, I can see their big eyes, and I can smell their sweet scent, and I can feel the soft velvet of their curly hair. Your children will be your legacy, and thus mine. Thank you for daring to share with me, your most marvelous work of art.
Shekinah, you made me proud. Not just for the woman you became, no. You made me proud to be your mom, proud to love you brazenly, proud to witness you. From the moment you arrived on the scene, you made me proud of who you are. I believe there is magic in you that humans have been trying to capture since the dawn of time, with their stories and legends and art. You taught me that my heart was larger than I could conceive.
Let my death and my life be like sunrise and sunset. Sit quietly with the sun, at the beginning or the end of a day, and give yourself the pleasure of paying attention to the stunning display. Witness a play by play expression of life in motion, and let it takes your breath away.
It is not necessarily easy to tell the difference between sunrise or sunset—the sky is ablaze with color, with reverence, with light. So too, the line is blurred between life and death. Our skies are still blazing with Light, let’s witness this motion, this movement, this life together.
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Photo: Pixoto user Hendri Suhandi