Last week Dylan's grandmother died. I held it together the day we were notified and breezed through the viewing with only the slightest threat of moisture collecting in my eye. I am family, but not. The connections and memories are not mine; the grief is borrowed, I have no right to it.
Or so I thought.
As I sat in the pew of the beautiful St. Mark's church, the same thought tumbled and chased its way through my mind: I do not belong here, I have no right to the grief, to succumb to the waves of sadness threatening to pull me under. I have to be strong for Dylan, for his dad, for his sister. And I was. Until the music started.
As the familiar strains of 'On Eagle's Wings' began, the tears began to fall. "This is not right." I kept thinking. "I don't have the right to cry." And yet I did, tears tracking their way down my cheeks and dripping off my chin. Every song in the liturgy was one from my past, at once both mourning and hopeful, beautiful and terrible. I felt the loss of my own grandparents even more keenly but still, I felt that I couldn't justify the tears.
My father-in-law, the eldest of six, gave the eulogy. It was eloquent and heartfelt, poetic and brief and it shone as a bright spotlight on the why. He reminded us that Grandmom was part of the Greatest Generation. They saw the world change and changed the world. They not only survived a terrible depression and war but thrived and drove the country to achieve the greatness, power and wealth we take for granted today. They were individual, unlikely heroes, every one of them and we are all better for it. And just like *that*, I understood. While I mourned and missed them as individuals who touched my life or my family's life, I also mourned that for each loss of their number, a piece of greatness died too; a tangible link to living history. That we today might not possess the fortitude to face the challenges and make the hard sacrifices that they made for us. That we lack the strength, grace, and courage to do similarly if called upon.
Thank you Grandma Feakes and Grandma Nachman. Thank you Grandpa Feakes and Grandmom Lange. We love you, respect you, miss you and salute you.
We shall not see your likes again.