The grass was soft even after the summer heat and the bushes were full of leaves in various shades of green.  The breeze blew and the leaves rustled softly.  Birds chirped as they do when the world goes on around them.  The sun was bright and hot if you were directly under it, but the temperature was perfect for those who sat beneath the shaded gazebo.

All that was missing was a beach full of sand and softly crashing ocean waves and it could have been the beginning of a romance novel – except for the casket that also sat beneath the gazebo.

This was my grandmother’s funeral.

Moments

The juxtaposition of the setting and the reason we were there did not go unnoticed.  Additionally, the busyness of seeing family, communicating and sharing details on the social media page, attending a couple functions, and meeting for the food get-togethers (there are always food get-togethers, aren’t there?) was not enough to distract from the sad overtone of that same reason for all of the busyness.  And yet, among the moments of profound sadness, and there definitely were some, there were many moments of something else, something more…positive.

The Rosary was…a Rosary.  (If you’ve been to one, you know I’m not being disrespectful, just factual.)  But, the funeral ceremony was filled with many emotions besides the sad ones:

Joy – with the memories of Abuelita’s life and how it was lived, and how she touched so many others;

Peace – knowing that she was now in Heaven forever with my grandfather and the Holy Father, free from pain and the ravages of Alzheimer’s on her brain and on her own dear memories;

And love – of family and friends, and of clergy who knew the Word and used it to help us say farewell, but also to comfort those of us remaining here after our loved one – a teacher, friend, sister, aunt, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother – had gone on to a much more beautiful place.

When someone passes, we mourn their loss.  We feel their absence almost as strongly as we felt their presence.  Even though my grandmother fought Alzheimer’s for several years, and it had already taken much of the essence of who she used to be, there were still moments, still occasional sparks of life that were exciting to catch, and it made us grateful when we got to catch them.

Bittersweet chocolate needs sugar to make it palatable...or loving memories.
Bittersweet chocolate needs sugar to make it palatable…or loving memories.

It might be because I am a chocoholic that this reference came to me the day after the funeral, but whatever the reason, it has helped me deal with this event that took place in my life…from my perspective.  I’m sharing in case it might help even one other person.  So, stick with me…

Recipes of Life

Some recipes call for bittersweet chocolate.  Some chocolate, depending on the percent of sugar (or lack thereof), has varying degrees of a bitter taste if you bite directly into it.  But, when you mix it with all of the other ingredients, the end result is a very tasty product.

For those of us left to deal with the loss of a loved one, death can feel like we have just bitten into a 0% sugar piece of chocolate.  It’s icky, it’s bitter, it makes us feel badly, and we don’t like it at all.

But when you add all of the other “recipe” ingredients to the mix – the love you still feel for your loved one (because that never goes away); the fun, happy memories you have of her; the stories from other family members of things you never knew about or hadn’t heard before (now I will forever remember the flying nun story!  It involves a piña colada; enough said) – the end result is more joyful.

And knowing this promise comforts me because I believe it to be true.  Maybe it can encourage others:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ~ “Brothers and sisters…about those who sleep in death, do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  According to the Lord’s word…the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command…and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

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Becky is a single mom navigating her own groovy trails.  She tries to “keep it real” in her belief of Jesus Christ, in knowing she is imperfect like everybody else on the planet (only God is perfect), and in trying not to judge others.  Unless the waist of their pants is at their butt cheeks; then she thinks they should pull those puppies up.  Or if somebody says she eats too much chocolate; then she just can’t be friends with them anymore.  Join her to discover how your plans and God’s plans come together in this life full of Groovy Trails!

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