The funeral home is not a place that one readily chooses to be, but it is where one goes out of necessity. It is a gallery of multiple levels of life. Visitors pass through the corridors and fill the rooms where the families are waiting to receive them. A loved one is resting in a casket at the head of the room, the spirit of whom has long left this earth. The faces of those moving about tell stories of shock, loss, bewilderment, fear, hopelessness and confusion. The employees of the funeral home are smartly dressed, moving about quietly and professionally attentive.
One such employee was a tall, thin, elderly man. One could assume he was in his 70’s but as the details of his life were shared, one wondered if he was quite a bit older. This unassuming and kind man remembered me from the week before as the family prepared to say goodbye to Mrs. Latham. Today, the family was saying goodbye to Mr. Latham, just five days later. I arrived quite early actually and this unassuming and kind man began to inquire about me. He gently admonished me for wearing a diamond ring on my left hand, suggesting instead that I should wear it on my right hand. He quickly commented that some man was indeed missing out for not having claimed me yet and he spoke confidently that one day a man would come along to do just that. Throughout the time we were chatting together, he politely asked questions about me and was equally open to share about his life with his wife and daughters and where his career had taken him. Within a few days, he and his wife would be celebrating their 61st wedding anniversary. He stated that he didn’t deserve her; we chatted about what it took to hold onto a marriage for 61 years. Throughout the time we were chatting together, he respectfully and gently peppered his comments with compliments for me. He noticed anyone that approached me and took note of any exchanges. Upon meeting my parents, he quickly told my mum that she had a special daughter. He commented often on my countenance. He stated that my countenance revealed an inner glow. He asked if I was familiar with an old hymn, “It Is Well”, for my countenance revealed it is well with my soul. When I left, he seemed sincerely sad to see me leave. He hugged me and asked me to visit see him soon.
Talking to him reminded me of You in many ways. The words of affirmation and tenderness that so easily rolled off his tongue were words You have spoken to me as well. The sincerity with which he enjoyed chatting with me for the hour reminded me of You.
I left somewhat abruptly even though the heavens had opened up abruptly to release an intense downpour. My feelings were beginning to spill over beyond containment. His esteem of me against the backdrop of what else was going on in that room was overwhelming me. His esteem of me, reminding me of You with each word and reminding me of the distance between us, was overwhelming me.