Thankfully, the pain of loss is tempered by the joy of Hope. The incredible spirit leaving this earth understood its purpose and is now joyfully resting in the Presence of the One who saves. She isn't in pain any more. She isn't bound by any brokenness. She is whole. And her funeral was a testament to a life well lived, even if it felt cut short.
I also watched my niece bounce with life, chasing friends and cousins barefoot through toys and tissue paper. We sang "happy birthday" over pink-frosted cupcakes.
My spirit stumbled through the dichotomy of what life was supposed to be versus what it is.
We plan. We pursue. We dream. We work. We play. We achieve.
And we hope.
But, it's all so very fragile here, isn't it?
Earlier this week, my mom took the kids to the Butterfly Palace for one final "hurrah" before school started back. You can't go in a butterfly aviary and not feel peaceful. Their grace flight is God's art in motion. Numerous intricate microscopic scales make up each iridescent wing. People estimate nearly 20,000 species of butterflies occupy the world. And even so their life is as fleeting as their flight patterns. Some species can live up to 11 months, but the average life span is 2-3 weeks. That's it--less than a month.
We can feel like our life here stretches out in endless days. For though we will admit we all die, we seldom acknowledge it in our choices and even less frequently discuss it. We don't want to talk about death, in part, not just for our pride, but because it's part of the fallen nature of man. We were meant to live forever.
"Dying of any kind doesn't sit well with us. We were infused with eternity when we were conceived, just as inevitably as we were born into sin" (Leigh McLeroy, The Beautiful Ache).
What many people don't acknowledge is that we will live forever. Somewhere.
But as much as we plan for this life, we need to project for the one to come...for that's where the true living takes place.
My husband and I deliberated about whether or not to let our daughter go to the funeral with me, but she's already been to her beloved granddad's funeral (at age 4) and her great-grandpa. She understands death. In fact, having to say goodbye brought her to a deeper appreciation for this life and why she's here. Death brought her to life.
As my pastor says, it's beneficial for us all to attend a funeral. It reminds us. It refocuses us.
Ecclesiastes 7:2, "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart."