Sunday, May 24, 2009
Sunrise, sans set
Two wakes, a memorial, a wedding, and a funeral figured prominently in my “social” calendar the past fortnight.
Two colleagues in the college got married (finally?) after about half a decade of being steady.
A preeminent former department chair’s life was celebrated in a memorial service attended by both university luminaries and loyal contemporaries.
The father of one of my dearest, dearest friends in medical school passed away. Look in many a graduation picture and you’d see his monosyllabic name and trademark embossed on its lower right-hand corner.
The mother of a medical school professor and mentor has passed on after some eighty-odd fruitful years on earth.
This peculiar flurry of life events, seemingly random, has a common thread.
The wedding of course made the world contain two less lonely people. The air was filled with excitement and happiness- from the moment the groom walked down the aisle to the time the emcee bid all of us a good afternoon as the wedding reception came to a close. The air was filled- is filled- with hope and wishes of good fortune as they embark on their new life together. Nary a word of complaint was to be heard; if there ever was, it was drowned by the oohs and aahs upon seeing the lovely couple. Everything is looking up for the couple.
Though a shroud of sorrow palpably veiled all occasions in the last two weeks related to death, there is an unmistakable din of hope and joy akin to that in the wedding celebration, albeit muted, but no less uncertain.
All the departed ones were remembered with the fondest of memories. Those referring to them spoke only with nicest, choicest words. Whenever imperfections were likewise narrated, they were always mentioned in a context that shone a positive light on the deceased. It was of course not a conspiracy to deny past indiscretions or weaknesses; it was just a conscious decision to highlight what was good and inspiring in the person, rather than stoke embers of anger and discomfort among family and friends.
The grief of the families left behind was eased by those unsolicited kind words. It was a joy to discover hidden facets of the loved ones we thought we knew. It was comforting to be affirmed that our loved one was indeed loved. Likewise, the constant and consistent declaration of faith that their loved ones are in a much better place now made the pain easier to bear. Admittedly, since no one is exempt from death, it is a comfort to all of us living: that we, too, and our loved one will be in that heavenly abode, united in a place without pain or sorrow.
Joy and hope at weddings. Joy and hope at funerals. The abundance of positive things and positive reflections unseat sadness and bitterness. Forgiveness given for past transgressions as easily as appreciation for just showing up at the wedding even without a gift on hand. The atmosphere so cordial, so warm it almost makes me wish life were a series of wakes and weddings…