i love every time i hear from you, thank you so much for reaching out with your kindness and warmth. june is just beginning and already oppressively hot and heavy with sorrow.
i've been to two funerals already and just learned that a third friend, died of breast cancer while i was attending the celebration of janet's life.
it is heartbreak to sit and take in a long slide show; a collection of photographs chosen by loved ones to express the essence of a persons life. janet came into mine as a student, retired, and eager to learn stained glass. the moment she walked through the door we both knew we had found a true friend. her voice was so much like golden honey, warm with love and her eyes?? always a sparkle of love and humor.
of course life tricked us in our instant happiness; allowing us to believe we would have years and years to take each other in.
her husband, what a character! 47 years together. he spent the last nine months caring for her around the clock as she suffered unimaginable pain, dependent on him for everything, e v e r y t h i n g. when death came knocking after they were both exhausted from a long fight for life, they took the time to make their last promises. this was the first funeral i have attended where the person we honored had a present voice in their own service. it was so touching and expressive of just how janet and jim shared everything in life, together; even the last farewell.
i've invited jim to come in each week so i can help him finish janet's last two projects. it will be a sad honor with many stories shared and healing, if that is the word for an irreparable grief, will begin.
my first funeral of the month was june 2. another friend through the shop but this one died suddenly and left his husband stricken beyond grief, because he did not have a chance to say goodbye. one moment, it was an ordinary summer day and there once again was the mistaken luxury of time; the road ahead a bright ribbon curling around the seasons of possibility. plenty of time for laughter and getting around to hellos and goodbyes. the next moment...a life ended. ed stood on the old wooden porch of my parents shop, convulsing in a fresh wave of grief the day he shared that larry was gone. the utter look of despair in his eyes as he asked himself out loud for the ten thousandth time, why didn't i grab him right then and there and tell him I love you, i LOVE you, I LOVE YOU!
sitting there a handful of days later next to my 83 year old mother in the over flowing Victorian funeral home in the heart of downtown Prescott. watching ed adjusting the adornments on the altar, getting the flowers just right, touching everything, lingering over every detail; life itself suddenly a touchstone of love. the photo tribute began with the story of larry's life with ed, started and ended there. no polaroids or black and whites from childhood. no family, children, parents....it was as if life itself began they day they met, the day they looked into each others eyes and knew they had found love and acceptance. they were inseparable from that moment on. it struck me as each person stood to share their hearts that larry and ed created extended families every chance that life presented this opportunity to them. here was a couple who made a difference in the lives of so many others. suddenly the lack of childhood family photos, holidays with aging parents, our chance to meet their extended families in faded photos dissolved in a living sadness of loss, absent families who could not or would not accept their sons as the beautiful souls they are.
some days i go to the shop early, while it is quiet and still, the large work tables and stools empty, waiting. i look around the studio and realize i could fill an overflowing class with students i have cherished who are now gone from this physical realm. people who have come through our doors to learn from us, my mother and myself, my father when he was still alive. thirty four years of ordinary people hoping to finally realize extraordinary dreams, dreams they have carried all the years of their career life. suddenly it is their time, a chance to discover the joy of expressing their true creative nature.
why do we so often postpone the deepest most meaningful expressions of ourselves? why do we believe so willingly that there will be time to write that thank you? to send an unexpected present in the mail, to look deeply in the eyes of everyone we meet with acceptance. to forgive each other. to forgive ourselves.
why are we so easily seduced by life to think we have all the time in the world to love, to live, to be whole?
i woke up early and found a love note from a friend waiting in my in-box. i stopped everything to answer her. to thank her for her kindness and thoughtful caring.
i am sharing this deeply personal letter here in the hopes it will speak to everyone who stops by to visit, with the hopes that each of us will seize the day. savor the moment. look at life through the eyes of love and acceptance. call that friend we have been thinking about. lay down the pain we have been carrying. forgive them, forgive ourselves. drink in each moment as if it may be our last; realize our wild and extraordinary dreams.