This time, it was an old friend of the family - A friend of my brother from grade school whom had been in a tragic accident. He knew the Lord.
I attended the funeral yesterday. I had debated whether to go; I hadn’t seen this friend or his family in years. But still his family was long time, friends of my family. His folks were friends of my folks.
We attended the same church as kids, and we lived in the same tight-knit community. For one thing, I knew my folks were going to the funeral and I wanted to be there for them. But even more than that, this family had been extremely kind when we lost Isaac. I remember that and I will remember that forever. I cherish it; but I can’t even pinpoint the action, only the compassion. But along with that, I love and respect this family and have many fond memories of them. I knew I had to go.
I am not sorry I did. It was a beautiful memorial service; truly a celebration of this man’s life. It was another circle of the past catching up to the future – which is now the present. I saw photos bringing recollection so that I knew I must have seen some of those pictures 50 years ago. I heard of all of our friend's accomplishments (and there were many) in his well-lived life. I had not kept up with his life over the years, but none of it came as too much of a surprise. It all seemed to be his nature.
I saw his kids, and grand-kids share their love and I not only saw him in those kids’ faces, I also saw his dad…the kid’s “great grandpa”. It certainly brought an immediate awareness of the circle of life. As well as the importance of those that understand the gift we have in our spiritual heritage. I loved that I saw four generations in that one moment.
This friend’s life had been a testimony of the love and grace of the Savior we serve. His funeral service was also a testimony of the whole reason that we live.
After the service, my heart was touched as the family asked for time alone and excused the rest of us. That was precious to me, and very wise on their part. They would join us in a few moments.
We gathered in the reception area for coffee and cake. Immediately a little circle of friends joined us. Some of whom I have seen over the years and some whom I had not seen since all those years ago in the neighborhood of my youth. It was a special connection as we conversed, reminisced and caught up with each other’s lives.
I smiled as I heard my dad with a twinkle in his eye tell the shortest lady of our small, intimate group, “Why! You never did grow up!”
We all laughed, but the truth is we really did all grow up together. Yes, I am speaking of the parents in some ways, too. They were young as they raised their kids, but they raised us with ethics, high principals and discipline. We were raised in a faith-based, mostly safe and moral era, but our community and friends were an important aspect of our small and safe haven in which we were blessed to live.
I suppose our childhood wasn’t perfect, but you couldn’t prove it by these memories and intentional expressions of memory and love as we visited.
As I grow older, what I have continually noticed and appreciated is the ties from my youth. This was our “family”. We all lived within a mile or so of each other and many of us here, now, to honor this man, attended the same church back then.
When we lose another from our small tight-knit community, we show up to offer support and acknowledgment. I have noticed these are ties that somehow seem stronger than even our more recent relationships. I’m not sure why. I think it is because there is something we all know, something we all understand. I have pondered it many times before, at high school reunions and such.
Yesterday, I think I finally figured it out and it’s really pretty simple. It’s merely a sense of belonging. This is the "community family" with whom we were raised and to which we still belong to some degree. It can’t be taken from us. We know they aren’t all perfect, but we truly care when one is hurting, we defend when one is down-trodden. We have memories that no one can take. We all remember what it was like. We belong. In my mama's gasp, and in those from the past that were able to attend the funeral, I saw forever love.
I don’t know; maybe all of this isn’t that important. But I always feel it. And from those feelings, I can also understand that this is what it will be like in heaven some day. We will know we are accepted and that we belong there; no one can take that from us because we have been given that gift. We cherish it, we protect it, we share it; and understand that eventually, we reunite.
But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.~Hebrews 11:16 KJV
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."