I haven’t been posting these past few days because, as you might have guessed, we were visiting Pete’s mom, and attending the memorial service for Pete’s dad, Neil.
In the days leading up to the memorial, and even in the few moments in the car on the way to the church, Pete’s mom, Joyce, kept repeating, “I don’t think there will be many people there. Maybe fifty or so.” She tried to hide the sadness in her voice at that thought, but it was audible. And it was visible in her eyes.
Everyone disagreed with her. Pete and his siblings, and all the cousins, aunts, and uncles from out of state (one drove fourteen hours to get there) all shook their heads. No, they said. There would be more. Neil was dearly loved.
Still, Joyce continued to insist that there would be few. “He was an introvert,” she said. “He made good friends, but not very many.”
We arrived at the church an hour before the service, to sit in the family parlor and talk to the minister about the service. Still, Joyce continued to quietly predict a low turnout, her shoulders slightly rounded, her eyes a bit dim.
But people began to come. They started early, a trickle, and steadily increased as time marched on and Joyce began to sit up straighter and her eyes began to glimmer and sparkle and a smile spread across her face. “They just keep streaming in,” she said to me finally, her face upturned and lit with wonder.
I did not count the people. And I am not good at estimates of those things. But the pews of the large church were nearly filled. And the reception line seemed to go on forever afterwards.
The next time you hear of a friend’s passing, and you know the date and time of the memorial service, please go. It is not for the sake of the lost one, it is for the sake of the one who is left. Your presence in their time of grief will honor them, comfort them, and leave forever on the hearts of the family–particularly the widow or widower–the knowledge that they are not alone in recognizing and grieving the loss of their loved one.