My sister Janie’s eulogy
How do you measure a life? By how much money they made? Or how powerful they were? History remembers the rich and powerful, but only their memory, death takes away all that is false from us leaving only the love that we carry with us. I do believe that Janie had a lot of love in her and that is what went with her as she became face to face with God.
Two years ago, when I was visiting family, I was able to spend a good amount of time with Janie. It is funny when brothers and sister get together it is easy to revert to one’s youth. So here was an old man, and an old woman, brother, and sister, acting like we were 13, watching movies, making fun of the plot, eating way too much, and oh boy Janie could cook. She loved it and I love eating, so it was a great mix. We watched the animated movie “Dominion’ I believe and I would yell out ‘Kevin! And she would laugh and yell back ‘banana’. Silly of us, well yes, immature, you bet, but it was wonderful and I am thankful for that time.
I was looking at an angel statue I have in my room. It is composed of glass and very well made. Sissy, who died in 2014, gave it to me in 2005. As I was holding that statue, I felt like I just received it a few days ago. That is how I experience time. So I guess the separation that we all must go through when our loved ones die, is not really that long as we might think as long as we don’t focus on days, weeks, months and years, but just on today. All days are experienced as ‘now’ when we live them. So all other experiences can seem like only seconds away from events from the far, as well as, the recent past.
Loss, is experienced uniquely by each of us, yet there is also a bridge that connects us, for sorrow, no matter how it is expressed, is a deep pain that stays with us for years, and well worth it. For love, with all that goes with it, keeps us human and more than that, we become more human as we learn to love more and not to fear the pain that comes with it.
It is the fire of love the cures the soul. The deeper in we go, the more our hearts expand and we learn to embrace it even more. To grow in love is a process, and I believe that it is grace at the bottom of it, when love pushes past what is expected and into something enduring and eventually embraces everyone. Such is grace, working in secret, beyond our control, all we need do is to desire to take that next step.
I will miss Janie, just as I still miss Sissy and Skip, yet I pray for them, and I know that they pray for all of us as well. I miss mom, and dad, my aunts, and uncles, in varying degrees. For the closer we are to another, the more we feel their absence. I do believe that our connectedness with others is something that we do not fully understand nor experience, but one day, we will, if our hearts are open, or are desiring of more love.
For the heart to grow more human it must be broken, a hard fact of life. For only in our battle with bitterness and despair can we finally find healing and trust. Our inner lives cannot be figured out in rational terms alone, for there is much that is irrational about us.
The feeling of loss for me is like being alone on a vast ocean, in the dark, with a storm coming, or in the midst of one. Yet the craft is a study one, and at times it seems that Jesus is asleep at the helm, yet ever watchful. All I need do, all we all need to do, is to learn to trust, sit, and hold on, and we will find ourselves ashore, sometimes in ways that we do not understand.
Life is a rough journey for each of us and the loss of loved ones is perhaps one of the most painful, but if faith is true, then we can have hope that one day we will embrace again.