One of the surreal things about growing older is that the next generation reaches adulthood so fast and seems so incredibly wise for their years. Another young relative sent the following words of hope and comfort yesterday.
"Please don't be disheartened by such a tragedy. Good things happen in this world every day, and while we all feel the pain of a lost loved one, we must live on each day knowing that we can live each moment to its fullest and enjoy every little valuable experience and memory and moment with which God graces us."
Walker's words weren't quite so eloquent, but the message was the same. There are good times and bad, but we will move on. He's getting pretty good at that. When I was driving him to work yesterday, I told him he would need to ask to be off on Thursday to go to his cousin's funeral. His reaction was a mix of alarm, over having a short paycheck, and fear of dealing with death, and finally resignation once I gave him the lecture about family events being important, even if they're sad.
The most recent funeral Walker attended was of our housekeeper of many years. Amelia was laid out in splendor in an open casket. This is not customary in our church, so we just sat down and soon we were kind of trapped in the middle of the pew and I didn't want to disturb anyone in order to get out. After a few minutes Walker quietly asked me if it was okay to go forward. With my permission, he climbed over the two ladies next to him and went up to the coffin alone. We were strangers at the small African American church, probably the only unfamiliar faces in the crowd. Although Amelia's relatives knew us well, others must have wondered who this young boy who loved Amelia might be. When he came back to his seat, I was sobbing for my friend Amelia, and for joy in the brave young man she helped me rear.
We never talked about that incident, but Walker's alarm yesterday was apparently over the possibility of having to face another open casket and more tears. Once I assured him that there would not be a casket and that tears are not a bad thing, he hopped out of the car, thanked me for the ride, and went to work. On his break a few hours later, he called home to tell me that he had picked out his birthday cake at the bakery...fears forgotten, and happiness ahead and that includes a swimming party and Scooby Doo cake.
I'll talk some more with Walker about it being okay to be sad, even sob and cry, when tragedy occurs, but today I'll order that cake.
I'm thankful that none of us can sustain the worst throes of grief without some relief, and that we can and will move on to the happier events in our lives whether we want to or not. That's just the way God made us.