“Life is eternal, and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.” ~Rossiter Worthington Raymond
I stood at the grave site of Lilly’s father today. I had only met him once when we looked at the life stories of eleven-year-olds filling the gymnasium of the middle school where our daughters are good friends. We marveled at how the children reflected both the mundane and the depth of their lives, often without recognizing it. I had known of his cancer, but at first didn’t recognize him for how well he seemed.
It was a cool spring afternoon and the sound of the freeway competed with the voices of his friends and family as they shared their stories of how he lived and what mattered to him. Lilly’s mom told me that he never missed a moment with the kids no matter how sick he was. Everyone who spoke echoed the devotion that he had as a father, that his children were everything to him. His little son spoke until he cried about the trips he had taken with his dad.
Tears, like laughter are contagious. Most people who spoke broke down before they were done speaking. There is nothing that shines more light on the meaning of life than the privilege of bearing witness to its end. The memorial had no planned service, it was just a moment to allow his people to reflect on his life. The lack of closure, of some kind of ritual for letting go and saying good bye, there was silence. Then suddenly from over head a huge flock of geese in formation called down and flew directly over the grave. Spirit, nature, and God had the last word.
Albert Einstein once wrote: “Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.” As we left Lilly and her family to the grief and aftermath of filling in the hole that death leaves, I understood as though for the first time that all of life is nothing but what we do with the hours we have on this lovely blue planet spinning through space. The only meaning our lives have is what we give them and there is no where to get to- we are here in the heart of life every moment that we are awake to it.
Death is the conclusion that awaits us all, and a truly positive life, one that is loved each moment that it is lived is the only antidote to the fear that it will end.