Note: Today’s post is not a DIY post. It’s a post about my day and about life generally, inspired by today’s events. I hope you’ll still stick around and see what I have to say. Thanks!
As my daughter correctly pointed out at dinner, my day started and ended with dog poop.
I started this morning at 5:30 am when Hank told on Bear. I was too out of it to understand that that was what he was doing, so I let him out, brought him in and went back to bed. Twenty minutes later, M comes upstairs and informs me that Bear has pooped in their hallway. And that was how my day started.
The rest of the day was a roller coaster. A haircut – always good – then a funeral for a nine-year-old. So, so not good.
For the first time ever, I heard a eulogy/sermon at a funeral I could get behind. The service was at an Episcopal church and so I expected a fair amount of information that I didn’t believe. But I wasn’t prepared for the rest of what the reverend said, and I was so glad that she said it.
She started off by saying that she’s mad. She’s angry that this child is gone. He was nine, for crying out loud. He was beating cancer. He was funny and sweet and a troublemaker and a fine human being. He didn’t get to have a long life and he deserved one. WTF? (OK, she didn’t say that, but that was the import.)
And we could blame God for this. We could sit on our couches and say we’re angry and never get up again. We could lock ourselves away and say, “Life is not fair!” and cut ourselves off.
But that’s not the way it works. That’s not how this child lived his life, and he had cancer, for goodness’ sake. He played basketball and soccer and went fishing. You live life fully. You live life like a nine-year-old kid with no fear.
And, as I sat there listening to her, I wondered why more eulogies aren’t like this. Aren’t we all pissed off when someone dies before they “should”? My dad died when he was 50. He was running at the time. I was ticked. Why did this happen to him? Why was his card drawn?
Yet, after it happened, I didn’t sit on the couch and say life isn’t fair. God never guarantees – no one guarantees – that life will be fair. Or that life will be long. We WISH that for our loved ones and for ourselves, but there is never a promise. So I got back up and lived.
What this reverend today was saying that I thought was so unique is that she said what we all have thought at some point. What we’ve thought at funerals, sadly, just like that one. She just finally said all this out loud. It wasn’t a high-level, euphemistic “he’s in a better place now” or “God works in mysterious ways.” It was an angry rant about how this just sucks.
I appreciated that. I think we all did. What I thought was interesting was that, as we filed out of the church, ALL of the mothers were crying. All of them. Sure, dads were crying, too, although many of them tried to be strong for their kids or wives or partners. But every mother I saw (i.e., woman with a child with her) had tears streaming down her face.
Because this friend of mine is living a mother’s worst nightmare. Every night before I go to bed, I check to make sure my children are breathing and fine. I make them wear helmets when they ride their bikes. I make them wear seatbelts. I worry when M climbs everything, or when D’s feet hurt after a lot of soccer. I make sure they don’t run with scissors and don’t play in traffic.
I don’t want them to die. Like ever.
The reverend said that we mothers as friends of the mother of this child have to face our fears to be there for her. We have to confront that we are all terrified of our children dying and we have to get past that to be there for this family. Amen.
The other thing that struck me about the service is how, despite some clear, major differences, our religions say a lot of the same things. No, I don’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus. But we all believe in love. We believe that there is a holy spirit around us and we can take comfort in that, if it helps. We all believe that we are better together, surrounded by each other and love, than apart.
And then I came home and hugged my kids. And then one of those kids stepped in dog poop and I was back to cleaning up poop again. And for that – unlike this morning when I was in a sleepy haze and not happy – I was immensely grateful, because I know that my friend would love to be cleaning dog poop off of her son’s shoes right now. Because I know that means that my daughter is alive and running and breathing and being and she is here.
Hug your people, whoever they are – whether they are kids or sisters or brothers or dogs, wife, husband, partner, whatever. Hug them all.