I just found out a few days ago that the wife of a dear friend and Brother passed away after what her obituary called a one-week battle with leukemia.
The funeral service was November 24th, the day before Thanksgiving. Now, for as long as I have known my friend, I never had the opportunity to meet his wife, with the possible exception of a quick hello at his house one afternoon a few years back. I thought, mistakenly, that this would be an easy funeral to attend (if any funerals are easy) since I really shared nothing with her. No memories, no experiences no connection to her other than her husband. As I entered the church lobby, I saw my friend. He said he was doing well, that today would be a celebration. He knew there would be some tears, but he wore a genuine smile and the sparkle that is typically in his eye was there as well. Easy, I thought.
When I entered the sanctuary, I saw her picture being projected onto the walls in the front of the church. She wore her hair in a blond bob, combed perfectly, looking directly at the camera with a squinty smile that made me think she knew a secret that she wasn't quite ready to tell. She looked warm and caring and I instantly wished that I had known her. I was overcome with sadness - as much as I have ever experienced at a funeral. Why? We were a full degree of separation from each other. What was it that made me mourn so deeply? I tried to figure it out as I listened to the opening remarks from the pastor, the guitar and vocals of "God of This City" and a touching video tribute. I saw her as a child, at family reunions, graduations, at her wedding to my friend who evidently had a lot more hair and a big seventies moustache long before we knew each other, the birth of her children and her later years (if you can call 52 "later years"). I figure there may have been sixty pictures, each one on average 1/60th of a second exposure, so her life was distilled to a total of one second of time captured in those images. It was left to me to imagine the time between those frozen instants, the time that makes a life. The time we laugh, struggle, give thanks, question, cry and love. I realized at that moment why I was so sad. In between her beginning and her end, spanning the years of her story, this woman I didn't know - the one keeping that really great secret-loved my friend - helped to make him who he is. She loved someone I love, so I loved her and her death leaves a void of sorts for me.
So on this Thanksgiving I am grateful for those who have touched my life without my even knowing it. I am thankful for the people that love me and for those I love. I'd like to think most of you know who you are, but if I were honest with myself, I know I could be better about showing you.
And I shall be.
Pax vobiscum Kelly, et cum spirito tuo.