I always been fascinated by the ways opposites sometimes complement and explain each other. Not so much Yogi Berra style, but more of an illustration that life is not black and white. It’s bittersweet in a million degrees.
Because of my obsession with finding poetic irony, I wasn’t so surprised that my dad died on the first day of spring. I’ve always looked forward to that day each year when we can officially shake off that nasty label ‘winter’ and have the hope of color, warmth, light and life that spring brings. I dread the first day of winter for the opposite. So, when my daughter was born on the winter solstice, it changed me. What had always reminded me of death and dreary, lightless days evolved into a celebration of new life. Spring this year brought death of one kind, but the beginning of another life.
This thought had been swirling through my thoughts all week as I went to my dad’s viewing. As Elder Oaks came by, he smiled at Claire, shook her little hand and said, “This is what mortality is all about: comings and goings.”
I hate to admit, but my mind bursted out singing ‘The Circle of Life’ at that moment. But it’s true, isn’t it? It’s so easy to get caught up in bad hair days and rush hour and forget that we are all a part of something much larger, something that’s been happening for a long time before us, and God willing will continue on much after.
The day of his funeral, my sister-in-law asked her son what his favorite memory of Grandpa was and he said, “My happiest memory of him is when he taught me how to slide. My saddest memory is when Grandpa took his body off.”
I can tell you those words landed on a soul that was hurting incredibly and as soon as they were said, they began healing. Sometimes it takes a three-year-old to jar you into remembering that death is simply taking off your body as you would a burdensome, binding, and restricting outfit as soon as you make it safely home. By taking off your body, you are who you really are. There’s nothing to hide behind; there’s nothing to set you back.