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.