I’ve just returned home from a funeral service held in memory of a man who was well known in our hometown. I didn’t know the man well, but my mother is friends with his daughter. I know some of his grandchildren, too, as we attended school together and we’ve all been vaguely aware of one another’s lives since we grew up and moved away from home. The ceremony was a very emotional experience, even though I wasn’t a personal friend of the man who had passed away. I tend to get quite upset at funerals generally, but I found this one particularly touching because one of the deceased man’s granddaughters sang, beautifully, during the ceremony and she moved me to tears. It wasn’t just her skill as a singer that moved me, or even the choice of hymn, but it was her ability to pour her grief and love into her voice without once losing control. I found tears rolling down my own face just listening to her, and my admiration for her was immense. It was a wonderful tribute to a dearly loved grandfather, and it made me think about the important things in life, and what we leave behind us when we go.
The reading at the Mass was about the riches of the world that pass away, and the silks and fine fabrics of the earth which will, with time, return to dust – in a way, it was appropriate. I’ve never aspired to be rich, or to accumulate ‘things’, but I do want to accumulate love. The greatest treasure I could ever own would be the thought that, when it was my time to be mourned, that those who loved me would miss me and be thankful for my life. I would hope too that they would then move on and live their lives, remembering me fondly every once in a while, and that – in time – all memory of me would pass into the wind, at one with everything else.
‘Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand…
Yet if you should forget me for a while,
And afterwards remember, do not grieve…
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.’
from Remember, Christina Rossetti