How To Change the World After Your Death

It’s been a fortnight of funerals. Three in the past two weeks, to be exact.

None of them were my personal relatives, yet I attended as part of the greater family who gather at such times to farewell and honor and remember.

I’m not sure how to capture the consequent feelings of all this in a blog post. I’m sure that any sorrow on my part is trifling, compared to the gut-wrenching grief of those immediate family members and closest friends who now find themselves so cruelly left behind.

Three funerals. Three lives. Three very different ceremonies.

Yet one thing linked each of these memorials together in a way that was both profound and common. It was not that they had died.

It was that they had lived.

I sat through three services of shared memories, open tears, silent sepia pictures of lives gone past. But at all three funerals, when the grandchildren rose to speak, I realised that those lives were not gone or past at all.

Three times, I was the silent and sad observer, as grandchildren struggled through tears and broken words to pay tribute to the grandparents whose lives had touched them so deeply, so lovingly, so enduringly.

Three times, I felt the sharp pain of those diamond tears and heard the cracking of hearts lost for words. And three times, I realised what I was actually glimpsing at a funeral:

Life.

But not just any life. Somehow, I was seeing, alive and well, the very life that we knew to be lost. How could this be?

No more will Grandma sneak sweets to the grandchildren when Mum’s not looking. No more will Poppa guide eager little hands to steer his beat-up old truck along dirt roads. No more will Gran laugh and sing and play her harp.

And yet – and yet they WILL. The body may be worn out, finished, over. But the life is still being lived.

Slowly, softly, that life was already spreading and planting and growing, being sown and nurtured long ago in the lives of those who now proudly label themselves as “the grandchildren.”

They are the living tribute. They are the legacy of time freely given, love unconditionally poured out, a life fully lived.

Because, even after death, a life will continue on in the children and the grandchildren and beyond.

Even after death, the seeds of shared love and time will continue to grow and spread and plant in turn.

Even after death, a life will continue to change the world.

© Emma McGeorge 2014

The Language of Love is Enough

FriendsOne is a foreigner living in a strange country. One is a native living in the strangeness of her poverty-stricken world.

One is a homeless wanderer who finds shelter downstairs in the kindness of a landlord. One is a temporary stayer who has chosen to live and serve in a dwelling that is not her own. Neither belongs, but both call the same place home.

Life has been very cruel to the older woman. Life has not been easy for the younger woman.

Two women. Two backgrounds that couldn’t be more different; two hearts that couldn’t be closer.

playdoughEvery day, the downstairs resident makes her way carefully upstairs. The upstairs resident greets her with a smile and a warm hug. The women share coffee and treats, a laugh and a chat. One has little possessions, and one has nothing at all – but here they both have everything.

Sometimes, the adopted “Nana” plays play-dough with the children. Sometimes, her foreign “daughter” mends her faded clothes.

Oh – and one more thing you should know about these two precious women. Neither speaks the other’s language.

This is their story, simple and profound. This is their friendship, inconceivable and inspiring.

They are already separated by culture, age, background, status. And not even language can be the bond that unites them.

But sometimes, words are not the only road on which love can travel.

Sometimes it is when love is at its quietest that we hear it the loudest.

Sometimes the language of love is enough.

Hands

© Emma McGeorge

Special thanks to Jenny Wilkinson for sharing this story and her insight that “the language of love is enough”.
NB: The two women have not been named due to cultural sensitivities.