First and foremost, my dad is a funeral director. While death is scary and overwhelming, it has always been part of my life. Up until recently, it’s been there in the form of stories from my dad and corny jokes (grab a cold one!), but behind all of that there’s always a family grieving. There’s always someone to light a candle in memory of his loved one. There’s always a story to tell that flatters the one who has gone. Unless there isn’t. Last Friday, I attended a funeral for someone I didn’t know. My dad came home Thursday night and asked what I was doing Friday then continued to tell me about a funeral he was doing Friday morning for a lady who had outlived her husband and all of her children. She had been in a nursing home since 2000 and there was no one to go to her funeral.
Friday morning rolled around and I went to the funeral, wearing a beige cotton dress because for once in my life I didn’t pack anything black to wear. In attendance were two nursing home employees, the lady’s lawyer, a friend of the lady, an acquaintance of one of her children, my dad, his co-worker, the preacher, and myself. She was 86 years old and only nine people were at her funeral. It was heartbreaking to witness. I wonder how many funerals she went to. How many weddings did she dance at? Was she kind? Was she tough? Was she scared?
All of this made me realize how thankful I am for every relationship I have and have had — good or bad. I am built up by the people who I surround myself with day after day. I am loved. I am supported. I have the privilege to be able to do the same for them. Because it doesn’t matter how many shoes are in your closet or books are on your shelf. It doesn’t matter how much money is in your bank account or how many shares of stock are in your name. None of those things will miss you when you’re gone. Relationships are the most important thing. Loving relationships, challenging relationships, work relationships, and even relationships that tear you down — all of them make you who you are. They make you into the person you are meant to be. The person people will mourn and/or the person who can withstand watching everyone they love go before them. To paraphrase Benjamin Button, “We’re meant to lose the people we love. How else are we supposed to know how important they are?”
So here’s to living a life brimming with love and laughter, relationships for the good and for the ugly. Here’s to hoping someone will miss me when I’m gone.