I attended a funeral today for the grandmother of a high school friend (let's call this friend Linda). I was very grateful that Linda took the time to let me know, as she ensured I was able to make arrangements to attend the Mass.
Back in high school, we were privileged to visit with "Mom-mom" on occasion. We were typically good, respectful kids, but at her house, we weren't just treating her with respect because we were supposed to. We were genuinely attracted to her gentle, open and generous personality. She'd tell us wonderful stories of Linda and her sister from back when they were little - stories we almost couldn't picture them being a part of! The same with stories of their mother. Yet we believed them because of who was telling the tale.
Honestly, for as much time as I spent with Theresa's family, I think Linda's was the family that was central to our group. Everyone felt welcome, and we all looked forward to spending time there. Considering how similar the 3 generations are in their personalities, it's unsurprising. The apples didn't fall from the tree at all in this case. Ha ha. Linda (and her sister), her mother, and grandmother are all incredibly sweet, genuine people who strive to make others feel accepted and loved. They are thoughtful, generous and humorous. I'm sad that earth lost such a light, but I'm immensely happy to know that Heaven gained her.
Anyway, the priest gave a very educational homily. I say educational because he took great pains to explain the various Catholic symbols used during the funeral Mass. He also went into detail regarding the promise of Christ's Second Coming as well as what our faith teaches occurs at death.
Though I was already aware of everything he was talking about, it was really nice to see a priest going to such lengths to ensure the people understood the rituals of the Church, and how they always keep Christ as our central focus.
One woman behind me grumbled that he was rambling. I didn't mind - I was secretly making a mental note to suggest that whichever priest presided over my funeral do the same. It's important to remind people what our rites are all about, especially when funeral Masses are likely the only times many of these folks enter a church. Utilizing the homily as something both educational for the congregation and consoling for those grieving is what priests are called to do. More power to him! :)
The rest of the service was nice. I felt slightly bad for Father because he didn't have an altar server (for example, he ended up using the altar rail as a make-shift side table for the censor since no one was there to hold it for him). This parish still has its school, so I'm not sure why they didn't just pluck a student or two from class for an hour. I remember when I was in grade school, I'd jump at the chance to serve a funeral. Not only did I get out of class for an hour, I got a $5 tip as well.
I'm not proud of my motives, but I'm being honest. That's what they were as a 6th grader.
Anyway, after Mass we headed to what must be one of the largest and most gorgeous Catholic cemeteries I've ever seen. It made me happy to know that this beautiful woman would be laid to rest in such a beautiful, serene place.
Unfortunately, I had to leave for work immediately afterwards. I really would've liked to have caught up more with the family, but time constraints would not allow me.
Though this brings me to my other thought...
I was pretty certain that Divine Providence had goaded me into settling down to finally write out my feelings on the matter. I know for a fact now that it was God's plan for me to confront those feelings.
This same friend showed up at the funeral today.
I had just gotten finished a Divine Mercy chaplet when I turned to figure out where the chilly breeze was coming from. No sooner had I turned around than I noticed he had walked in with his partner. He had obviously seen me, but was refusing to acknowledge it. I didn't mind. I went back to my prayers as he greeted the family.
I filed in behind them after Mass as the procession led out, but I didn't want to interrupt the silence with a greeting. I figured I'd see them at the cemetery and greet them then. As I said earlier, though, I didn't really get the chance as I had to get back to work. Linda's mom, being as impossibly thoughtful as she is, had actually brought Vincent his Christmas gift since we hadn't been able to see her over the holiday.
Can you believe that? In her grief, she was off thinking about someone else. I was both touched and unsurprised. When I say that these women are a rare breed, I'm not kidding. I've never met anyone quite like them, and I doubt I ever will again. The world is a better place simply by their existence in it.
Anyway, by the time I'd gone off with Linda's mother to collect Vince's gift, my friend and his partner made their way over to Linda and her sister. I considered going back down to say a proper "hello" but I didn't think it prudent. Today was not a day for confrontations, and considering his response to my presence from the moment he entered the church, I figured that's what it would end up being for him, especially due to the emotional circumstances of a funeral.
On the way back to Jersey, I realized that it was a good thing I had written that entry 3 weeks ago. Though I didn't speak to him, I didn't have any negative emotions towards him, either. There was a bit of an issue that will remain unspoken that caused me grief, but barring that, I was content in my indifference.
I feel as though I would've been irritated or upset had I been so openly ignored previously. I realize, though, that he's got to deal with things on his own terms, same as me. Avoidance may very well be his security blanket at this point, and I'm content to give it to him if that's what he thinks he needs. When and if he's ever ready to approach our fragmented past, I am confident I'll be able to respond with a clear mind and a level heart.
So yeah... I'm definitely glad that God shoved me into writing that entry down. It forced me to confront my feelings and solidify my understanding of what transpired, because He no doubt knew I'd be seeing him today. With that foundation, I was able to give myself the closure necessary to put this entirely behind me. Maybe one day he'll be able to do the same.