Friday, June 26, 2009

Recent Funerals

Are funerals sad?

No. We're sad at funerals because their whole purpose is to recognize what we've lost; we also have a hard time as we realize more and more how much we will miss that person in the future. However, funerals themselves are thought-provoking, solemn, and reverent. They bring out the deepest sentiments in everyone involved. They are truly growing experiences that help us learn to cope. In fact, they're exhausting for me because they're so powerfully emotional.

Of course, I hope I don't have to attend another funeral for a while.

The most recent one was where a neighborhood friend has been left alone after the loss of his soul-mate. I think back about her and remember how she was always positive, always happy to see you. And Lynnette and I would bump into them on a date together from time to time, and you could see how they genuinely enjoyed each other's company. I got teary-eyed at that viewing every time I'd think of his life without her. As we waiting in line to see him, I found it remarkable how he seemed so composed; he seemed to be the one comforting everyone else. When we got to him, he told me to cherish Lynnette because I never know when she'll be gone. That's powerful.

Before that one, we went to one for a local family who, in one year, lost 2 daughters to two separate diseases. Again, we could see what a hole was left in that family. That event continues to affect me because I met one of the daughters at a Thanksgiving dinner where she didn't interact much; I assumed she was quiet without much to say. However, I learned at the eulogy that it was because of the disease, and besides hearing it from her family I heard it from some high-school friends I hadn't seen for years; they all talked about how much she contributed when they worked with her. Wow. Talk about having your eyes opened! That meeting was touching because the full emotion of the family came through, especially in song.

Although I hope it's a long time before I have to attend another one, I will jump at the chance to go. There is no other gathering where we fully sense and focus on all the most meaningful parts of life.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Admiring a Young Man's Composure

This is Tolman's first day with Cub Scouts. They're going to Cub Country. We set the alarm and woke up early so that I would make sure to get him up in time to go; turns out he was already up and fully dressed in his new scout gear and didn't need breakfast. I remember how I used to get excited like that.

But more than his excitement, I appreciated seeing what came next. I stayed and watched for a minute after dropping him off while the leader talked to the boys about a few rules. First, she asked them to pick a buddy. She didn't notice one boy's choice and assigned him to someone; immediately he put his head down in his arms and would not talk with her. Someone else explained the situation and she assigned him to the buddy he wanted, so he finally looked up and answered her questions. In contrast, when she first asked who wanted to pick their buddy, Tolman quickly raised his hand, but I saw the disappointment as the leader let someone else pick first and both of his friends in the group paired up together, leaving him out. What a way to start the day with a dose of rejection! But he stayed calm and let her assign him with someone who he didn't know.

I expect he's going to have a fantastic day. And I have high hopes for this young man's future.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Novel with Integrity and Determination

I finished Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre" a few months ago, and the story has stayed with me. I'm going to recommend this to my girls -- and any young person -- because Jane displays a wonderful strength of character that makes her an inspiration for anyone.

Jane makes choices in the book that might not be right for others in the same position, but she makes them her own. She explains herself as she makes choices on small and large issues, from how to deal with her family and friends up to marriage and her life's work. In each of these situations, Jane makes a choice that is all her own, sometimes even creating an option that forces others to take stock of themselves. But the most enlightening part is how she arrives at each decision... and how she keeps her integrity and determines to live and deal with the consequences of each one.

One other marvelous part of the novel is Charlotte's description of the main characters. She manages to create realistic people having qualities to which I can relate, and she clearly identifies their quirks and sometimes subtle weaknesses. Personally, I don't even perceive these things in other people, and usually not in a way that I can consciously put into words.

I need to read more... at least, more works like "Jane Eyre".