Friday, June 20, 2008
I've attended three funerals in the last month, all for folks who were not far from my age. The passing of the first was sudden, but not a big surprise: a retired educator who had defeated cancer, was being treated for a series of lesser illnesses, and died of complications from that treatment. He led an educator's life, was a person of service, and the gratitude and good memories were abundant at the rites and after. The second funeral was for a former teacher who had left the profession to take over a private business and do some writing, which she did very successfully. She died very suddenly of a heart attack--no warnings to friends or family. Because of the very special, charitable quality of her life, the service had a lightness and radiance that all seemed to feel. The reception following had the quality of a reunion of prodigals "coming home." Conversations left hanging twenty years ago were resumed without pause. The third demise was of an acquaintance who died under difficult and uncertain circumstances. The funeral appeared strained, almost surreal for the community that was present. I wasn't able to attend the reception, but sensed that the assembly was somewhat uneasy about the whole business. We do prepare our passing by our living.