*Eulogy delivered at my mother’s inurnment earlier today.
On September 25th I stood before you and told you the love story of my parents. Daddy fought to stay alive in order to give mommy the gift of presence on their Golden Wedding Anniversary on September 17th. The Unity Candle lit on that day, became the guiding light that accompanied Daddy to his final resting place five days later.
Mommy kept the candle burning and it reached Daddy’s ninth day. From then on, I lit the candle sparingly, hoping to have a little bit left over for his 40th day on October 31st. Little did I suspect that I would be standing in front of you exactly a month later, to stretch out that precious candle to guide Mommy into the light towards her beloved Pete.
My parents were sticklers for organisation, and anyone who ever worked with them in any capacity knows this all too well. Daddy was the consummate engineer who fiddled around with functionality, details, and stability. Mommy went for efficiency without sacrificing quality, preferring shortcuts that worked and didn’t waste anyone’s time. These two organisers are still at it even from the other side. Rather than have me request Fr. Raymond to say one mass after the other for the various landmark days of the mourning period, Mommy took one of her infamous shortcuts and timed her departure in such a way that her ninth day will fall on the exact same day as Daddy’s 40th. Which also means, I will have enough candle for both of them on October 31.
Mommy was fiery, temperamental, but also the best hugger who never shortchanged anyone on kisses, smiles, and what I treasure the most, holding hands.
- Hers were the hands that vowed to be with Daddy till death do them part.
- Hers were the hands of acceptance that held her baby born with a hare lip and a cleft palate.
- Hers were the protective hands that assured me everything would be alright before and after all my surgeries.
- Hers were the able hands that taught me food doesn’t just fill the stomach, but unites us at the table.
- Hers were the hands that clapped in celebration and in prayer, showing us that you are never too old to feel young.
- Hers were the hands that held Daddy throughout his darkness.
- Hers were the hands I held during her ordeal.
- Mine was the hand she held when she exhaled her last breath
We all knew Linda to be the loquacious, funny, adorable woman who could also be brutally frank. Her last eight days, however, were spent mostly in silence, speaking with the greatest of efforts and only during small bursts of lucidity that allowed her to say good bye. We held hands through it all, I shed my tears and made my promises as she drifted in and out. What she could not express in words, she made up for in hand squeezes, always in response to my whispering “I love you Mommy”. The hand squeezes weakened as the guiding light towards the other side grew stronger, but her final two words to me were the greatest gift any daughter could ever wish for in a lifetime: blub you.
I refuse to dwell on loss, because you cannot lose what lives within you forever.
I refuse to resent their departure. They simply moved out and are embarking on a long overdue journey together.
I refuse to wallow in sorrow, because they fought valiantly till the very end and taught me a new meaning of courage.
I will not grieve Mommy’s death just because her body surrendered. She gave me the gift of life, time and faith, showing me that death is simply another journey that is not to be feared.
In their 50 years of marriage, my parents were never apart for more than a month. In life, as in death, I celebrate their union, and cannot help but smile at the fact that 50 years later, Pete once again prepared the path and the home for his bride, eagerly awaiting the moment to take her hand and lead her over the threshold. As we look upon the two urns side-by-side, I ask you not to think of this day as a funeral, but a reunion. Be happy for the end of their suffering, and believe fervently, as I do, that they are finally ready to embark into the eternity of their new home exactly the way they wanted: together.
As spring unfolds the dream of the earth,
May you bring each other’s hearts to birth.
As the ocean finds calm in view of land,
May you love the gaze of each other’s mind.
As the wind arises free and wild,
May nothing negative control your lives.
As kindly as moonlight might search the dark,
So gently may you be when light grows scarce.
As surprised as the silence that music opens,
May your words for each other be touched with reverence.
As warmly as the air draws in the light,
May your welcome each other’s every gift.
As elegant as dream absorbing the night,
May sleep find you clear of anger and hurt.
As twilight harvests all the day’s colour,
May love bring you home to each other.
-John O’Donohue (from Benedictus)-