Well, it certainly hasn’t been a traditional Valentine’s Day. We had to say goodbye to a dear family friend. Funerals and Valentine’s Day usually don’t mix. But our pastor reminded us that on a day of love, it is very fitting to celebrate the life of one we loved.
I don’t know if any of you “grew up” in a church. I have attended two churches in my life. The first had to close when our congregation dwindled to just a handful of families. Most of those families, including my own, switched to a nearby church of the same denomination. I was baptized in the first church. I was confirmed, married, and baptized my own children in the second. It’s a small, close-knit church, and the people there are as much my family as my own flesh and blood.
A dear man of this church, from the original handful of families, passed away this week. I have known this man since I was three months old. He was one of a group of wonderful older men who have been father figures to me my whole life. He has had a long time of suffering, and I am comforted that he is finally at peace. But I will miss him dearly.
There was a group of us, sitting near the back of the church today. Five women who over the last two years have all lost our fathers. We have all attended the funerals of all of the other fathers. We all feel the same way about each other’s dads…father figures from our faith family. Our fathers were woven into the fabric of each others’ lives, and we have grieved together. Today’s loss was difficult for all of us. There we were, far from the front pew reserved for the official “bereaved”, crying our collective eyes out. We all shared glances, knowing that we all felt the same way. It was comforting.
My heart truly goes out to the family of this man. Visiting the same funeral home where my father was laid out, sitting in the same church where my father’s funeral was held, I felt I knew their pain. I was there just a year ago.
Take some time this Valentine’s Day, as you delight in the one you love, to remember those you love who are gone. It really is a fitting day.