You can’t map out everything.
You get a text that someone is back in the hospital. You’re out of town. You get back into town and finally visit. You have a great chat, even laughs, and promise you’ll be back soon, internally denying the gravity of things. You get back three days later because they’ve taken a turn for the worst. They’re asleep. You talk as if they can hear you. You thank them. You say your goodbyes.
Three days after that you’re at their memorial service. Their family has picked Elvis’ rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” to be played as you walk into the chapel, you followed by the funeral director and the family. Then you get up and speak of what you know, of how she was a bridge, of grief and the hope we have even as we grieve. You sit down. Willy Nelson singing “Family Bible” begins to play and part way through, the funeral director ushers everyone out.
In between each of those steps, a million more have happened. You don’t remember them all but you think they’ve all been necessary. Even the mind break Sudoku provides as you lay in your kids’ room hoping they’ll fall asleep quickly. You hope.
And you’re grateful because the last time you saw her up and vibrant was at the end of a church service when she couldn’t help but celebrate the last song. She’d never heard it before–“Lift Every Voice and Sing.” She loved it, hands raised as everyone sang. She met you at the door. She hugged you. She told you she loved you. You said you loved her, too. You did. You do.
Hope and gratitude. That’s how I move through my days.
Rest well, Carolyn. See you soon.
(You can find a copy of my eulogy here.)