I walked thru the wooden, hand-carved doors this afternoon and was very self-conscious of the heavy sound of my footsteps on the marble inlaid floor of the funeral home. Tears welled up in my eyes and I tried to swallow the solid lump that had formed in my throat before I even entered the chapel. I took a deep breath knowing the next few hours would be some of the hardest.
There she sat, alone on the first pew nearest the coffin. A black lace shawl around her slumped shoulders. Family members gathered around the pearl white casket all with their backs to the mother who had suddenly lost her daughter.
24 years ago I sat and listened to the story of their coming to this country from El Salvador. Their native-land left in military chaos and horrible uncertainty. They came here for a better life.
I watched as her youngest little girl mastered English and learned to speak for her entire family. I saw her blossom into a beautiful young lady with dark hair and shimmering brown eyes. She excelled in school and graduate with honors. We expected no less. At a time when we should be celebrating a college graduation we instead are forced to celebrate a life we deemed to short.
Grief can shred your heart if you allow all the “what if’s” and “what could have been’s” to take over your thoughts. I knew I had to celebrate the life that was lived and not the milestones that will be missed. If everything happens in God’s perfect time then even this has to bear a blessing somehow.
I walked to the casket to say a final goodbye, to utter a prayer for my baby girl to travel safe on her new journey. Her mother called to me and held up a black beaded Rosary. “Please, put this in my babies hands?”… That lump jumped up into my throat again…but I did just as she asked and laced the beads between her fingers, laying the cross and beads down gently over her folded hands. A beautiful girl, a beautiful life….a beautiful Angel.
I felt the pain in that moment. Just as I should have. Emotions and feelings no longer dulled and masked by medications. I felt what was real, I cried the tears. It was not lost on me that her young life on earth ended as mine continues to blossom everyday. I know I will have one more angel in my spiritual family cheering me on from across the veil. I have had several good cries. I’m probably due a few more. It’s just part of being real.
I love each and every one of you,