"Yeah, it sucks."
I attended today the funeral Mass for the wife of a man I have known as a photographer and a smile. John is always smiling, except for today. His wife died after a long battle with cancer. He had lost his wife, his lover, his friend. And when I walked up to him in the vestibule of the church and said, "I'm sorry, John," all he could muster in return was "Yeah, it sucks."
I never knew his wife. I didn't need to. John always seemed happy, at peace, respectful, caring, calm and creative. He has been through a lot these past three years in particular, yet his traits and characteristics remained. Now I feel confident that Maryann had a lot to do with that. As with most funerals, I learned a lot about living and loving from the stories and the silence of the day. I watched from the back pew and garnered a lot from observing and listening.
They both loved the outdoors and outdoor activities; they had growth together and they had growth individually. She was described as living life fully by sharing passionately her loves, her beliefs and her faith. I know she supported his love of photography and other things, and I was not at all surprised to hear today how much of a life she had that he supported, too. The priest reminded everyone to recall not the gap left in their lives by her absence, but for all the gaps she filled for so many years by her presence.
John's sails are somewhat empty now-life's unpredictable that way and sometimes it sucks-and his own love of life along with his memories of Maryann will eventually breathe into his canvas. We were reminded that there is a time for everything, but we don't know anything about timing. Life is unpredictable that way. The best we can do is live fully and generously. I saw another view of that style and grace today in the reactions of others to the things said about my friend's wife, and I saw it in the pain in his eyes at his loss. Life is unpredictable that way, and the best we can do is best we can do and to learn from all those around us who are great role models for living.
PS: As I walked from my car to the church for the funeral, I received a text message as I took my phone out of my pocket to turn off the ringer. The message included a photograph of my 16-month old granddaughter wearing a dress with hearts all over it that I got her for Christmas. The message said, "I'm coming, Grandpa." She and my son were coming to visit today. Life is full of sorrow and joy-and reminders/lessons-at all times. Life is unpredictable that way, which makes loving and living in the moment even more important.
Listen to Life is a free newsletter about learning and getting more from life by paying attention to our own stories and the stories of others, based on the presentations, writings, photography and workshops by Dion McInnis (www.dionmcinnis.com). Copyright 2012 Dion McInnis. All rights reserved