Saturday, March 26, 2011

a rose by any other name

I have been to two Catholic funerals in as many months. At both occasions, I tried to observe with as un-hethonistic an eye as possible, the piousness, the traditions, and the faith of the mourners as they took part in a farewell Mass for their loved ones. I'm a firm believer that we can imbue life with whatever meaning we want, so why not dig deep into every moment and see what turns up? To say that there were many profound moments at Alyssa's funeral today is the understatement of the year. Her mother asking that we all be a little more kind as a legacy for her daughter, the Priest sincerely upset that he had to console a family who had been there 6 months prior to bury Alyssa's brother, the trembling voices of her friends as they read scripture. In the background of all of these moments were the mourners with clasped hands either holding back..or not, their tears.
As I took all of this in, I couldn't help but find beautiful interpretations for things I didn't understand. The incense produced a cloud of smoke that rose up into the heavens, but for me, it represented a physical presence that we could all see, a common vision that seemingly disappeared. I was sitting in the back of the church, so it took a couple minutes for it's aroma to reach me. Then it occurred to me that there it was again, the same presence, nothing had actually changed in it, it was just diluted into the air and had become perceptible through a different sense, yet in a way that was still common to us all. Maybe we aren't capable with our meager 5 senses to perceive what happens to the essence of people when they die, but it was a very moving realization for me that if we keep an open mind, then we keep open the possibility of finding our friends brushing up against us in the wind.

1 comment:

  1. Is there a possibility you could email me at I have been trying to track down Alyssa's parents so I could contact them. I was Alyssa's teacher and advisor when she attended Touro College and completed her Masters in Literacy. While I had many email conversations and knew of her battle and had her as a student our entire relationship was online and that is also the way I heard of her passing. I only found out after an email I sent did not get a response and after worrying I Googled only to find out the horrible news. I have tried to get an updated address to let her parents know how much we at the school were saddened by her loss but the address I was given was the wrong one. If you are able to help that would be a blessing. Thank you. Dr. Sheldon Shuch
    PS Best luck to you as well. I have not read your blog but hopefully you are making progress in fighting your diesease. Coincidentally my son is a physician and is doing oncology research at NIH so I am all too familiar with sarcomas.