Death.  A rite.  Seems like a strange word for such a momentous
occasion.  Considering the eras we pass through on our way from
life to death, it’s interesting to spend some time assessing the
changes that occur, with or without our involvement.  Some
thoughts as to the particular rites associated with birth, such as
joy, parties, oohs and aahs and just general light-heartedness,
and then the ultimate end of life in death, itself.  Remembering
meeting my future wife and no particular involvement in the world
and little thought of future job, family, in-laws, etc., and then
the end when she died while I was holding her hand – and all the
years between, gives one a sense of time that so many people have
attempted to explain, and usually utterly fail.

Over the past few years I have witnessed the death of many
friends, family, and even strangers, and it has been interesting
to note the differences in the “final rites.”  In many societies
it is common for relatives and friends to spend weeks in mourning,
sacrifices to appease the god of death, placing food items at the
grave for the evil spirits to feel placated, and other, to us, odd
ways of “celebrating” one’s passing.  On the other end of the
spectrum, so many Christian funerals I have attended, gave
occasion for family and friends alike, to offer tributes,
accolades and humorous stories of the passing of a dear one.  One
funeral I attended recently left the audience with much greater
joy and laughter than tears.  It was the man’s life that gave
everyone a sense of appreciation for a person who had made such an
impact on those around him.  Songs of inspiration rang though the
church, as if this was a great celebration; and it was.  This man
was now in the arms of a wonderful Savior, God, Himself.  The pain
of cancer was now conquered and he’s awaiting the arrival of the
rest of us.

The loss of a loved one is still painful.  The years of such close
fellowship as with man and wife, coming to an end, is not a
pleasant thought.  Over many years together we truly become one,
and our ability to juxtapose strengths and weaknesses becomes as
natural as life, itself.  In a perfect relationship, the end is
euphoria; but that’s the dream.  Enjoying the ability to make our
mate happy, loved and contented, is a joy to express.  But to lose
a loved on, leaves a void that cannot be filled.  The memories
created along the way are the flowers that keep blooming in their
absence, and their brilliance never fades nor their fragrance ever
ceases.

In my yard are many bushes, trees and flowers – most of which I
planted, but many that my wife planted and nurtured – she was the
artist, and also spent many years crafting magnificent floral
arrangements for numerous large and small occasions.  She was
known as “the flower lady” by all that knew her.  And having
wonderful musical abilities, I think she was singing in her soul
as she tended to God’s beautiful creation.  When she passed, the
flowers present were beautiful and creative … but none like the
ones that she would have arranged with such love and appreciation.
What is it that makes such a difference from one funeral to the
next?  While living, we all make a mark; some are bad; some are
good, and some leave others laughing by how and how many ways
their lives were lived.  After all, God really does have a humor;
He made me.