I Like That

I Like That
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Friday, October 21, 2011

My First Baha'i Funeral

On October 21, 2011, for the first time in my life I stood in a cemetery beside a coffin before it was set into the ground. It was the first time I attended a Baha’i funeral. It was the first time I heard the Baha’i obligatory prayer for a funeral, Prayer for the Dead. It was not however, the first time I had cried for a deceased acquaintance.

The ceremony for Arlene Beverly Shimeld was conducted with dignity and respect attended by her family and her friends. I imagined her body wrapped in a traditional shroud of silk or cotton, and on her finger perhaps there was a ring bearing the inscription "I came forth from God, and return unto Him, detached from all save Him, holding fast to His Name, the Merciful, the Compassionate", but I couldn’t be sure. The wooden coffin was closed, draped with a narrow cloth of sophisticated patterns and garnished with a flower arrangement.

I stared past the casket at the groomed grounds and watched leaves flip and fall to the earth. My thoughts formed the sentence, “October is a good month to die.” The change of season offered up strong winds, rich fall foliage and people wrapping themselves and each other in their arms. I felt tears in my eyes and assigned them to happiness. I was glad to be in the presence of God and to be there to wish Arlene a safe journey the Abha Kingdom. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Moment I Knew

THE MOMENT I KNEW that I had made one of the best decisions of my life was when my story, “How Detachment Changes Everything”, appeared in print among twenty-nine published and first-time women authors. I was humbled to have my work included with tales that have expressed personal revelations about reflections on love, relationships, pregnancy and children, family and lessons learned, family influence, faith and culture, loss, self-discovery, and on life and the human condition.

On Thursday, September 22, 2011, two extraordinary things were laid in my hands. A dear friend took mine in hers and told me that she had been diagnosed with a dramatic heart condition and the specialist told her that she had five years to live. Our eyes searched each other’s souls to find a place where we could console our hurt. I said I was sorry to hear about her heartbreaking condition and she told me that she was sorry to have had to tell me about it. Shock set in. I led my friend to a comfortable chair and asked her to tell me all about her condition. She spoke in her normal tone as though she had prepared herself for her story’s release. I nodded slowly at first and then felt my body rocking back and forth as though her message was more than my brain could handle. I smiled at her to reassure her that it would be all right. But it was false hope, because I have no say in her length of stay in our material world.

Our concentration was interrupted by our husbands’ voices as they returned through the apartment door from having toured the building. Frank, my husband, was caring a sealed package and handed it me. I looked over at my quiet friend and said, “This is my book. My essay is in this book.”

I reached over and touched her hand and she understood that I wanted her permission to open it, to end our heart-condition conversation. She nodded and I acted immediately.

I laughed and whimpered a bit at the same time. I was thrilled with excitement at seeing my essay on page sixty-three, but at the same time felt restrained by the depth of sorrow I saw in my sweet friend’s eyes.

The interruption was the excuse our friends needed to set in motion their leaving for home. We hugged each other and said, “I love you.” After I watched their car drive away I sat and read the book, The Moment I Knew – Reflections From Women on Life’s Defining Moments.

Susan writes for the love of it.