Friday morning, December 31, 2021, wasn’t the way I had expected to end the year … going to a funeral of someone I’d known a quarter century. I planned to go through the line and leave, but a dear friend was already seated in the back, expecting me. No way I could escape that easily.
She joined me up front as we shared with our mutual friend’s adult sons what a delight their mother had always been and how her sense of humor and compassion melded in the most unique ways. As we walked to the back, I wondered if I could still escape, but the funeral home staff had closed the doors in the middle and back of the room. Damn, I was stuck.
With no tissues nearby, the cloth mask I wore was forced into double duty as the minister stepped to the podium and commanded our attention without demanding it. That moment was refreshing as I often wonder if society has abandoned all basic manners and respect for leadership.
I quickly dipped into my pocket to silence my phone. I decided that God wasn’t going to let me escape and that I should hear whatever message would be delivered. Later, I wished I had been in reporter mode and taken notes, but maybe I was supposed to listen and absorb … process later.
I made a mental note to later look at some passages the pastor referred to … because in our instant gratification society, some quotations have been reduced to bones, just short of dust, and lost their impact. I needed impact … this day.
My tears fell without sobs, without shaking, without sniffles … as I did what memorial services are all about … remembering, yet looking deeper within myself for the foundation of my strengths and reasons behind my weaknesses. The excuses suddenly felt uncomfortably longer than “War and Peace.”
But they did not dissolve into guilt … they evolved into deep reflection, a pool to swim in without fear of drowning and with life jackets always within grasp. The pastor then said that God was only a breath away.
Wow. What an important reminder during so many self-induced moments of forgetting to simply breathe.
I needed to breathe by myself as the service concluded. I told my friend I didn’t have the emotional energy to ride to the cemetery with her. As we stepped outside, my tears gathered momentum and we didn’t talk much, just embraced.
I texted later, thanking her for understanding and not being judgmental, one of many things I love about her. I was so raw and exposed as 2021 ended … and wondering if I was supposed to bare my soul and heart at such a deep level so that I could fully comprehend what a new year could bring.
Listening Saturday to an annual New Year’s Day webinar on finding a new focus and commitment to my business, I heard some of the same old, same old … but paused from multi-tasking as a few words seeped in and stirred a non-alcoholic cocktail in my belly. My gut reaction was akin to waves of a-ha’s! surrounding me faster than a tidal wave …
But this time I wore my life vest to chase away lifelong fears of drowning … in fears birthed through human experience … shaped by the life I had and didn’t have … the things I wanted but didn’t really need … and the things I needed but didn’t really want.
This photo of me as a baby exploring the world captures how I’m feeling now … Am I looking forward or back … or both … still innocently oblivious to what any of it meant. I frequently strike that pose as an adult …
Today, I’m pulling out a heavy-duty red marker to start slashing my list of excuses to a more reader-friendly and realistic draft that I’ll whittle while God stands by … only a breath away.
Hey, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below. I’d love to speak to your group, organization or company about working our way through the pain and challenges of everyday life. You want straight talk? You got me!