Lately I've been or know people who have been to a lot of funerals; for family members, fellow church members, and friends. Funerals can be tough. While for some we can see them as someone finally being at peace and no longer physically suffering, they can also catch us by surprise and leave us wondering why someone had to be taken from us so young and with so much life left to live.
We attend funerals and want to be there emotionally for our family and friends, but don't always know what to say. To a grieving person, they may not want to hear, 'They're in a better place now', because truth be told they would rather that their loved one was still here with them. I was at a funeral not too long ago when the wife of the deceased said, 'He looks good. It's the best he's looked in weeks.' I think it gave her a small sense of comfort to have her husband looking peaceful. It gave her a positive image and a good memory to hold on to. It truly doesn't matter what you say, it's just important that you are there for those who need it.
Bad memories can be haunting for some people and difficult to let go of. The weight they carry with them can be overwhelming, even many years later. Good memories though should be treasured. Sometimes amidst the sad and bitter memories, a positive nugget can be found. When you are able to find that one, you should hold tight to it and carry it with you.
When I was younger (around 11 or 12), my parents were fighting and going through an ugly divorce. In the midst of that I had a best friend named Julia. I would spend as much time as I could with her and her family. To me, her family was like something out of a story book. Her mother was a school teacher and her father was a school principal. What I remember most was them having fun as a family; laughing, having dinner together, and making time in the summer to go to their cottage on a lake. The summer they invited me to go with them for a week was like a little slice of heaven to me; like going to summer camp. I laughed at the breakfast table with them, went on daily hikes and scavenger hunts along the railroad tracks with my best friend, and learned how to water ski on the lake. It was the longest and shortest week of my life; it was like I had traveled to another place (a happy place) and didn't want it to end.
Funny that today as I am preparing for another funeral at my church next week, I thought about Julia and her family. I was reminded about the good times and memories we created. Julia and I lost touch when I moved and went to a new school, but I never forgot about her friendship or the amazing gift I felt her family gave me that week. When you are child caught up in the stress and complexities of a family divorce situation, a peaceful week away with a friend and their family can give you hope. Hope for a brighter tomorrow, hope for a different scenario for your own future. Funny thing is, I don't know that Julia or her parents ever really knew what an impact that one week had on my life.
Hold on to those special memories; especially when they resurface and remind you of the goodness that people can share. Those memories are such a gift. We never know when we are impacting someone else's life in a positive way. Anything and everything we do can affect someone else; if not today then maybe years from now. Open your heart and share the goodness. You are more of a blessing to those around you than you may ever realize.
What's a special memory that you hold close to your heart?