This week I will head to the third funeral in as many weeks. This week’s will be harder, I think, than the other two, because the other two friends were at least ten times older than little Ned who passed away on Friday from leukaemia.
But regardless, it’s hard to say goodbye.
I have a few thoughts.
The first is that I am grateful for my faith. For my God who became human, died, rose again, and triumphed over death. I believe that death is not the end for any of us, and I look forward to seeing my friends again in heaven. In fact, I am already rejoicing, with tears in my eyes, at the thought of little Ned meeting up with our friend Frank and once again enjoying shoulder rides and playing trains.
The second is that I am grateful for the arts. For the TV show I just watched about someone dying from cancer that gave me the outlet of tears. For the book I am reading on pain and suffering that helps my mind to cope with this awful situation. For music, that unlocks the tightness of my chest and gives my pain wings. For the poetry that gives me the words when I have none of my own.
Thirdly, I feel that it is a good thing to remember that each of us will die. We don’t know when or how, but we can think now about how we want our lives to be remembered. The Good Book says, ‘Teach us to number our days, that we might gain a heart of wisdom.’
It is easy for the days to slip past without us noticing. In fact, when my kids were little it was only the fact of them growing up that made me realise just how quickly time was passing. If we remember that one day this will all end, it helps us to spend our days more wisely, reaching out for meaning and purpose.
Annie Dillard says, ‘How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.’
We don’t know how many days we will have. We don’t know if we will live six years, or sixty, or more. But let’s strive to live each day the best we can.