Last night the funeral home that coordinated Shawn’s burial services had a “Celebration of Life” memorial night. The evening was filled with meaning and hope. I was highly impressed by their consideration to the healing process in addition to their attention to detail. The night began with an intimate service highlighting those in the community who have lost loved ones. A slide show gave each person present an opportunity to share a personal story about the person in their life who had died.
After the service we were all invited outside for a dove and balloon release. I held one of four doves. It was especially symbolic to me as I was told that these homing doves have a natural instinct to “fly home”. I imagined Shawn “returning home” on the night that he was taken from this earth. After the doves began to fly we all released a balloon. Jordan and Madelynn watched with great intrigue as the balloons floated up into the air becoming tiny specks against the sky. I told them the balloons would go visit daddy and they smiled.
The night concluded with a grill-out of hamburgers and hotdogs. As we left, each family was given a rose bush in honor of our loved one. The night was uplifting. I was happy I attended.
Today I received an email from my sister who had also come to the memorial night. She shared with me a conversation she had after
the service with my eight year old niece. It moved me to tears
and I had to include it in my writing as to never forget the lesson. My sister wrote:
As we drove home last night, my daughter asked me, "Mom, what was your best
day…ever?" Wow! What a question! I had to rack my brain. I
finally came up with an answer. "The day your brother was born." (I
immediately looked in the rear view mirror to see her reaction.) She
softly and a bit disappointedly said, "Oh". I continued, "The day he was born, you walked into the room, wearing a soft purple jumpsuit,
with a cream colored turtleneck. You had a little barrette in your
hair to keep your bangs out of your eyes. You said with a huge smile,
full of love and excitement, ‘MOMMY! DADDY! A BABY!’ It was the
most precious day!" (I looked in the rear view mirror again,
to see her grinning ear to ear.) I then asked her, "What was your best
day…ever?" Without hesitation she replied, "Today."
How can one little girl’s best day be a day that was born out of loss?
I believe this is only possible if we take the loss and learn to
celebrate life. Then a day that feels like it could not possibly hold
anything good has the potential to become a day that may in fact be one of our best.