1: to perform (a sacrament or solemn ceremony) publicly and with appropriate rites <celebrate the mass>
2 a: to honor (as a holiday) especially by solemn ceremonies or by refraining from ordinary business b: to mark (as an anniversary) by festivities or other deviation from routine
A sweet woman (T, for our purposes) passed away a few weeks ago. In about an hour, we will gather to celebrate her life. I have mixed emotions about calling this ceremony a celebration, but I'll admit that reading celebrate as "honoring by solemn ceremony" changes my thoughts on that a bit. It's been difficult in the days since T's passing to find an acceptable way to express sorrow in losing her and joy that her prayers were answered and she was able to lead a normal life right up until she died.
I am not sad for T. It was a blessing that she was spared more pain from cancer and that her family was spared seeing her become not herself, but a vessel for a raging disease. Throughout her illness, T had a sweet spirit and peace about her. So I am not sad for her.
I am sad for her daughters, her husband and the rest of us left here without her. I am sad that when her daughters experience joyful times later in their lives like graduations, marriages, the births of children, these events will be tinged with sadness. Because at the highest points in their life, there will be a missing shadow that is not their mother watching them with glowing eyes. I know these sweet girls are secure in their mother's love for them, but I do not feel ashamed to cry for them and their loss.
Yet I have felt a quickness to move past grief to acceptance and celebration from many, many people at our church, especially those close to this family. And while I am thankful to have known T, I am sad for myself that she is gone. Her daughters are older than mine and she is someone whose parenting style I respected and admired. I would have asked her for advice on how to live life with daughters. I would have had her family over for dinner to let my girls see that whatever stage they are in, it will pass. I would have sought her wisdom and learned from her experience. But she is gone, so I can't do these things. And while I will go publicly honor her in a short while, I will also mourn her loss.
Grief is hard for me because I do not like to feel things intensely and I can not think about this and not feel. A part of me wants to be like the others in my community who are moving past (or just skipping over) the pain of loss, but when I think about who T was, I think she would want me to go ahead and feel what I am feeling in remembering her. I remember a friend saying on the Sunday after T's passing, "Why am I so sad?" And I thought to myself, "Because it is sad." It is a tragedy that T is gone, that a disease took her from us and that we have to go on without her.
So I'll close now and go get dressed to solemnly celebrate T's life. But I am left with questions that will go unanswered, many of them that start with the word "why."