Saturday, January 7, 2017

Celebrate Life

Today, hubby and I sang with our church choir for a funeral. The gentleman, Chuck, passed away a month ago from a long battle with cancer. I did not know him very long, but I knew he was quiet, a faithful man, loved his wife Elaine fiercely and was devoted to our church. What I didn't realize was that he had been an elementary school teacher and he was a fan of opera - German opera in particular.

His wife Elaine has been a source of inspiration in many ways to me over the years,but in the final months of Chuck's life and especially over these past four weeks, I am inspired even more. She placed Chuck firmly in God's hands. She prayed that he would pass peacefully. She was convinced and content in her belief that Chuck was in Heaven and he was no longer in discomfort. She smiled, at times through tears, but she always had a smile on her face. You could see she was content, she was at peace.

The service today was beautiful. The Scripture talked about leaning on God and trusting in Him. As a choir we sang "How Can I Keep from Singing" (a favorite of Elaine's) and "Jesus Draw Me Nearer (May this Journey)," a favorite of our choir. There were some tears, but there were mostly smiles and laughter.

I left there thinking, "This is the best funeral I have ever been to." Hubby told Elaine that the service was perfect and he wanted the exact same service for him. Elaine felt the music was the service. Everything that was said or sung today from prayers to scripture to music, was a celebration. Celebration of music, which was very important to Elaine and Chuck, a celebration of God's love and promise to us, and of course just the celebration of Chuck's life itself.

Death is not pleasant. I have lost loved ones and friends and it has devastated me. However, I have learned that you cannot dwell in the passing. Their death is just one moment of their life's story. That moment has its place in your heart and mind, but we most focus on all the living moments. Remember their laugh, the music they loved, how they crinkled their nose when they were perplexed, their not so successful cooking attempt, their love of pets. Remember their smile, how their eyes looked when they held their child for the first time, how their hand felt in yours.

Elaine told us she was lonely and that she missed Chuck terribly, but that it was okay. I believe it will be. She will find her way. Of course she is lonely. It is a natural feeling. So as her church family we will love her through it.

She did give us a piece of advice as we gave her hugs and said our goodbyes today. It was quite simple, "Be good to each other."

Be good to each other. Celebrate life. What else is there?

This is a photo we took on a trip to the Adirondacks a couple of years ago. It just seems to peaceful to me.

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