Saturday, everyone's faces were pale and their clothes black, trying to look as nice as one could on a grim day for someone now being mourned. I, myself, have only been to a few funerals, never a memorial service. Now, however, my indirect connection to the deceased did not make the event, of sorts, any easier to attend or understand. Some family came alongside several friends of similar ages to the honored, all with hair of ash, white, blue, bark, blonde and occasionally just bald. I wondered if it got any easier, at that age, to lose someone, knowing they lived a long life. I have lost friends of similar age to myself, and it always seemed cruel and unusual, but never easy. The woman staring back at me from the picture cleverly placed in front of the sanctuary looked sweet yet stern--honest, decent and genuine. She is a woman who touched many hearts in her many years on Earth. The service was fairly short and despite the sadness, everyone was cheerful, following the example of the woman who loves them in life and in death.
It was a day of remembering: remembering why she was loved, how she loved, how she lived--remembering her life. But memorials do not just remind us of what was, they also remind us of what could be. Inside each memorial there is hope for a better future, motivation to take after the one who set such a high bar for those left behind. They leave with us their wise words and unforgettable actions. I may not always reach the standards left by this grandmother, mother and friend now resting in peace, however, I have people in my life still who keep me inspired. They believe I can do anything even when I believe much less. They are the ones I find it hardest to embrace on my final days before I leave. They are the ones I always remember when I am gone.
Today, the only pale face was mine. Sitting in the church I have come to know as my home away from home, I knew it would be the last time I saw everyone before I went off to school, again. I felt drained of any happiness as some of the closest to me got closer throughout the morning. My laughs were more akin to hollow chuckles--as if I was choking on the air around me. But I was desperate to retain any happiness I had, even if all prevail was lost by the end of my pastor's sermon. Feeling dead, it was as if I was on the outside looking in to my own memorial service. Not a lot was being said, but there was love. And where there is love, there is purpose. So I left today, feeling a bit grim, but knowing it was for the better. When I return, those smiling faces looking upon me today will be there again to warm me when the world has chilled me to the bone; frozen by life's realities, thrust onto a campus with which I am comfortable, but never home.
Bidding everyone a farewell was hard, but necessary. I have a job to do, so to speak. I want to make something of myself and acquire more skills to help me improve my art in any way I can. I want to make my loved ones proud and I want to have something to say when I get back. (This long summer left me with only so many words in the end.) Like death, life is never easy but it is what we do with our time here that gives it worth not just for ourselves, for those we touch. So in four days I will be on my way again, trying to make something of myself, or at least live a little longer under the delusion I am doing something worthwhile.