Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ramped Eternity

There may be no tougher job than saying a few words at the funeral of a friend. On Thursday we stopped by the funeral home for the 'viewing'. Susan had wanted a closed coffin, so people came, said goodbye and then milled about chatting and sharing memories of Sue. After a brief hush of mourning there were little outbursts of laughter here and there as people remembered Susan and told stories of her life. Every one of us who knew how Susan viewed the work ethic, knew that she would be annoyed that we there on a work day.

I struggled and struggled to find a way to encapsulate a life into a few words. Especially a big life with big accomplishments, a life the had impact, had importance and made a difference. By the time I went to bed the night before I hadn't finished writing what I would say. At about 2 I woke up with an idea, I got up and wrote it down. For better or worse, it would have to do.

Knowing, just knowing, that the world isn't designed with the slightest thought of disability. We arrived at the funeral home early. I told them that I suspected that all the lecturns would be made for those standing, not for those sitting. They said that they, in fact, didn't have something that could be used by a wheelchair user. I told them that I expected that they expected that the only people who were on four wheels at the front would be lying down. They blanched at my joke (inasmuch as those pale people who work in funeral homes can blanch, these folks all looked liked they'd been the main snack at a vampire convention, but I digress).

We adapt the environment to make speaking possible and I park, to get ready for the funeral. I saw several people and the hardest thing for me, the very hardest, was knowing that I couldn't call Susan to gossip about the people at her funeral. Sometimes after a meeting we'd get on the phone and gossip away, laughing for long stretches. I wanted so much to ask her 'Did you see the face on that one?' ... 'She's obviously here for the lunch afterward!' ... 'My good heaven who's he with now?' While Susan was a wonderful professional, with ethics a mile long, she did love a chinwag.

All evening I flashed on something I'd like to talk to her about. Something where I'd just have to pick up the phone.

But there is a hole in my life.

A Susan sized hole.

And I'm glad of it. Joe and I drove home chatting about Susan and her kids, about the funeral and the people there. We were both exhausted. Saying Goodbye, the Big Goodbye, is very very difficult.

Oh, well, I'm sure of this ... 'Heaven's ramped ...' So I'll see her again.


Belinda said...

From someone who was an eye witness--your eulogy truly honoured Susan and captured her. You are right--how do you encapsulate the essence of a person in a few words--but you helped us know her better.

And you were a splash of joy in the crowd--a determined to have joy splash! (You made me laugh, begging for more apple pie.)

For Susan, no more pain, and a bodily death with courage, celebration to the end, and dignity. She is far from gone, and I have a feeling that you'll still be whispering a piece of gossip to her now and then.

Richad H said...

"Heaven is ramped" I love that!
Thanks Dave.

Tamara said...

So sorry for your loss. So glad you had the opportunity to speak and speak well of your dear friend.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for your loss. Thinking of you and Joe during this difficult time.

Anonymous said...

Will you post Susan's eulogy?

Shan said...

I'm with RICHARD.

Theresa said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

Glee said...

A close friend of mine died recently. Someone was heard to say at the funeral - "Cathy is perfect now". This infuriated me so it's a good job they didn't say it to me. Cathy was ALWAYS perfect. Her disability was a perfect disability. Cathy was a perfect person. Everyone is perfect as life always includes so called imperfections.

I too hate the "skipping in heaven" and "free at last" crap that people sprout when someone who was living with a disability dies. Such comments are insulting and arrogant!

hugs to you Dave.