I don’t want to tell Mr’s stories on this blog. Mr is a very private person. I asked his permission to start this blog, to be honest about my feelings on it, knowing that our lives intersect and intertwine. I am grateful to have the space to express myself, but I know that my “self” is connected to someone else. Where am I going?
Mr’s paternal grandfather transitioned from this earth on Monday, October 21, 2013. He was 92 years old. It hit Mr hard. He was with me the night before he found out, and he said he had been dreaming about his grandfather, specifically that his grandfather died. He said he dreamed the same dreams the night before that as well. He didn’t find out about his grandfather’s passing in the most delicate way either. I’m not sure the weight of the loss will be fully felt until the funeral, which will be held in Haiti on November 15. Mr’s grandfather was a high-ranking (if not the highest-ranking) clergy for the Church of God in Christ in Haiti. The church is handling most of the funeral arrangements, and the service will be attended by many, many people. (The last I heard of the count was 3,000.) That can’t be easy for the family. It wouldn’t be easy for me. The passing of the loved one is personal. Mr is holding up. He’ll go to Haiti for the funeral, and I think that’s very important.
In addition to his children and grandchildren, Mr’s grandfather is survived by his wife. They would have been married for 65 years on December 21 of this year.
I met Mr’s grandparents this summer. It was very important to Mr that I meet them (or perhaps that they met me), and I understood why. I complained about the expense, and my exhaustion traveling from DC to NY and then to Florida to spend a day with people only to repeat the journey in reverse and then go to work. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t complained. It was an honor and privilege to meet Mr’s family and this couple who had been sharing their lives with one another and sustaining a life together for decades. If only I spoke Creole or French. (Their English was fine enough.) Or if they were in better health. There were so many questions I could have asked, insight I could have gained. At least I got to meet them. That was very important to Mr.
How do you say goodbye to someone that you’ve woken up to and fallen asleep by for more than 60 years? One of Mr’s beloved memories of his grandparents is a family reunion. For reasons I do not understand (a major issue with telling someone else’s story) all the grandchildren were in the grandparents’ bedroom through the night. Perhaps Mr – a very young Mr – was in the bed between or near his grandparents and could hear them whispering to each other throughout the night. I’m not retelling it well. Mr’s account was very sweet. I’m sure his grandmother will continue to whisper each night to her husband. I’m sure she’ll hear his responses as well.
In more death news, I’m preparing to dance at a stranger’s funeral on Saturday. The story of how this came to be is simultaneously boring and curious: Basically, I was asked by a friend of the departed’s family, and I accepted. I am praying that God give me the music, the movements, the message for this grieving family that I do not know. Are they believers in God and His Son, Jesus Christ? Was this death sudden? Who is this woman whose life they are celebrating and who they miss tremendously at this time? Who are these people who love her? Who did she love? I’m almost at a loss for what to do, but I know I’ll be guided to what’s right. That excites me. Very little excites me more than true ministry – the opportunity to be an effective evangelist.
And I don’t fancy myself a “preacher” or anything. As a matter of fact, if I never had to say a word about God, if my life were lived such that all anyone saw, felt, or heard from me was love, then I would have done enough. If my actions were in line with goodness – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving hope and good news to the oppressed, setting the captives free, visiting the sick and imprisoned, forgiving those who wrong me, helping those in need, being affectionate with those I love – then that’s it. That’s what a life in relationship with God should look like. That’s what I’m aiming for. So when my time to leave this earth comes, I hope Mr is strong enough to celebrate my good work and not wallow in his own self-pity. I hope we’ve raised any children we’d have raised to carry on in the faith. I hope my friends who may miss my jokes, find enough happiness in life to carry on laughing. “‘Til death do us part” is a promise that I make to do my best while I can with the hope than when death comes, I wouldn’t have lived my life as a liar. That I was true. There’s nothing more guaranteed than our human expiration. We may not know the date, but we know death is coming. So while we’re living, love somebody. Mean it. And repeat. Help somebody. Do it. And repeat. Everyday. That’s life… ’til death.