I Am Southern, I Am Baptist, There is a Funeral….

A friend’s mother passed away. I haven’t seen them in many years. They used to go to our church but moved away She passed suddenly. As far as anyone knew, she was perfectly healthy.

Since they attended our church for so many years, it was the couples wish to be buried in the church cemetery.

The service will be on Friday. So after church tonight, we did what all Southern women of the Baptist faith do in times like this. We planned.

We discussed what would need to be done inside the church building to prepare it for the service. We planned what we would do for the meal for the family after the service and we sprang into action.

Most of us work so not everyone can attend the funeral. I could rearrange and be available for the day.So we had to clean tonight.

My mom grabbed the flower pot off the communion table at the front of the church. Another lady and I grabbed the heavy wood table and carried it into the back room so there would be room for the casket.

A couple of us grabbed the vacuum cleaners and began to clean the carpet. Another collected  trash.

As I was vacuuming between the pews, a thought came to my mind. My husband was the last one to have his funeral in our church. That was almost 4 years ago. Wow….almost 4 years.

A great many memories came flooding back to me.

I could see the casket I had carefully picked out as if it were still sitting up there. I knew this same group of women minus me had done this same thing for him, for me, for us.

I saw the crowded country church  full of people who had come to help me say “goodbye” one last time. I walked up the same aisle that day as the day I married him.

I thought about my friend who was the funeral director. How at the funeral home when they closed the casket for the last time, he looked at me and said I know you have tucked him in many times while he has been sick. Help me tuck him in one last time.  He held my hand as I walked up the aisle telling me I would be okay.

I remember my great niece straightening his necktie every time there was a break in the line at his viewing. I thought about how many people came through the line and the kind words they said to me. How my best friend and her daughter were the first people to my house after he transitioned.

I thought about how that I was asked if I would be offended if they did a cookout for the meal afterward, because he loved cookouts so much. As a matter of fact, the hot dogs in the freezer at the church were left over from his final birthday party which had been a short 3 months and 25 days before. I told them I was fine with it, it wasn’t like I was going to want to eat anyway. He couldn’t eat after all.

So as I help this family, I face some of my own “stuff”. I will go on Friday morning and get some things to take to the church. I will be there for them as others were for me.

We are not alone in our grief although it seems in that moment that we are an island far away from civilization.

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