I’ve attended two funerals for young parents since Lisa died. One was last week.
In both cases I sat on the front row of the church balcony. I headed up there assuming there would be fewer people around in the event I become a blubbering idiot. I have a bird’s eye view of those beneath who are struggling with their grief.
Yesterday I sat and watched another father on the front row, his daughter and son beside him. And I return to that day.
It’s weird what you remember. I was wearing my light gray suit. I saw a former employee who I had not seen for years in the hall as we entered the sanctuary. I grabbed her hand. Another guy I work with was standing under the stained glass window half way down the aisle. He had given up his seat for an elderly woman.
I remember Michelle on one side of me, Stephanie on the other. I could touch DJ with my hand if I put my arm on the pew around my middle daughter. I felt it was important for them to feel my presence, physically and emotionally, since their mother seemed so far away. I enfolded the other two up under my arms, crutches to keep me upright.
We sang four hymns because Lisa loved music. She used to say, “You don’t need to talk at my funeral, just sing.” We did both.
I stared at the cross hung above the choir’s heads, What a mess you have made. I thought to myself.
There was no talk of the beauty of God’s plan. We didn’t pick bible verses that would make it all seem planned. We just sat and ached, every single one of us. Our minister hurt too.
Over and over and over I wondered how this could be. It just could not be true. I felt like I was at a movie watching someone else in pain, and yet clearly it belonged to me.
It broke my heart to see that father last Friday. I didn’t hurt for me – I’m through the worst of it. But to think of what he has to face: the fear, the loneliness, the open wound in his heart. As a fellow human being, I simply ached for him.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could share the pain, if I could relieve him for two hours each week? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. It’s his journey to walk. We can stand by his side, we can help hold him up, but he and only he has to take the steps. One at a time.