The screens above the altar, flash static photos of happier days and golden moments, frozen eternally in time. The poignant smiles around the jam-packed church are real and an overwhelming ambiance of love fills up the room. It is obvious that the somber faces in the crowd miss her already, though each grieves for their own reasons. Their tears accompany painful smiles, reminding me of the beauty of a rainbow, which can only be appreciated as a mist of summer rain fills the sky. Once again we realize that to fully grasp the magnificence of a presence in our lives we must also acknowledge all that is painful, ugly or uncomfortable; quid pro quo…tit for tat…give and take.
I stare solemnly at the lifeless woman inside of the silver casket and I am reminded of my own mother who left this earth, not so very long ago, and I begin to cry. Feeling a bit selfless, I quickly wipe my sleeve across my cheek; you see, I have never met the woman inside of the silver box, so I feel this expression of emotion does not belong here amongst a sea of friends and relatives, many of whom have spent their entire lifetime in the company of this lovely woman. She too, has shared tears, laughter and has quite obviously touched all of their lives. They are, without a doubt, her legacy.
There are hugs between grieving, long lost friends and solemn handshakes amongst stoic fathers, sons and cousins. Everyone quietly takes pause to appreciate the extra days with which they have been blessed while considering the elderly and aged neighbors and friends who sit in silence, undoubtedly wondering, who amongst them would be next?
The scent of sweet red roses and springtime fills the air, while the exquisite beauty of the massive display of flowers fill our hearts with the hope and promise of a brand new season and a fresh beginning. Sadly, the dearly departed will not be so lucky. The music begins to fill the room and the murmur of the crowd softens.
Amazing Grace rises from the hollows of the church organ, bringing with it, a subtle sigh and sobs of sadness from the grieving crowd. They settle back into their seats and fall into a rhythmic sync; their breathing and hearts beating as one. The tears fall quietly, like the raindrops of an April shower and I realize that once again, even in her absence, she has brought them all together, to support and be strong for one another; just as she had always taught them.
Everyone begins to pray and even I, with no Christian background, cannot deny the spiritual presence in the room. My eyes dance between the faces of all of these mourners, most of which I will never actually meet and I feel a closeness and a camaraderie with them. It occurs to me, with great sadness, that I was not fortunate enough to meet this powerful woman who could bring an entire community together without so much as a single word and I am sad but also humbled. As the entire room begins to sing with voices loud enough to raise the roof, I realize that while this wonderful woman may have left the physical earth, her love and legacy survives.