One spring morning a daughter and her dad took flight in a small plane in north-central Wisconsin. At 16-years-old, she was more excited to get her pilot’s license than her driver’s license. She had been practicing with her dad for some time now and couldn’t wait to take off. Little did either of them know it would be the last flight one of them would ever take. Moments after takeoff, the engine failed and the plane tumbled to the ground. Only one of them survived.
I know it as one who has loved wholeheartedly and lost. I know it as one who has seen people experience losses of beloved people and animals alike. I know it as someone with a beating heart. Survival isn’t always for the fittest. If losing a loved one is tough, living with the aftermath is worse.
Referred to by some as a celebration of life, funerals offer those left behind the chance to grieve together amidst the company of those who have their misery in common. Obviously they don’t happen that often in the doggie world (other than perhaps in the privacy of a beloved backyard), but it is for this reason that I can’t help but believe that funerals are usually more for those left behind than for the loved ones lost.
And, in most cases, those in attendance of a funeral occasionally have those moments for days, months, and years afterward. If you’ve lost someone you know what I mean. The moments where you close your eyes and pray and wish with all your heart you could have that person back. Just for a second. So you can ask them their opinion on something, hear them laugh, or touch their hand.
It happens to me with several of the loved ones from my past, most of whom I hope are still alive and well somewhere out there. I wish so badly I could consult with Rusty one last time, make sure Jo is okay, wrestle with my brothers again, or snuggle with my birth momma again. I wish I could erase my loss of them from my life and we could all somehow live happily ever after in my present.
Then it happens. I remember that if I hadn’t lost my mom and brothers, if I hadn’t gotten deserted by the man with the leather belt who lived with Jo, if I hadn’t met Rusty, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Heck, I may not even be happier than ever in my forever home with my adoptive parents if not for all of the heartbreaking losses in my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have “those moments.” They happen all the time. But I find myself picturing an image the pastor brought to life a few days after the tragic plane crash that took the life of my adoptive mom’s 16-year-old cousin Shelly.
Think of her as being on a boat, happily journeying between what was and what will be, the pastor said. The person is paddling toward the shores of heaven where she is being welcomed by those who have already made the same journey. Meanwhile, she fondly waves goodbye to the shore of loved ones left behind as they become smaller and smaller and the people on the shores of heaven get closer and closer.
Shelly left behind her dad (who survived the crash), her mom and hundreds of friends and family who gathered together at her funeral to mourn her loss. But she’s happy now, looking down on us from heaven. And, like all loves lost, she lives on in our memories.
- Remembering Rusty (wileyschmidt.wordpress.com)
- Hands: Heads or Tails? (wileyschmidt.wordpress.com)
- Home is Where the Heart Is https://wileyschmidt.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/home-is-where-the-heart-is/