Today, in fact this entire week, has been filled with sad images on television.
Here in Detroit it’s been a week of celebrating the life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, who died two weeks ago. There’s been days of public viewing, with lines of people stretching for blocks, all waiting in heat indexes over 100 degrees to pay their respect. Her funeral is tomorrow. Local news stations seem to broadcast little else.
And Senator John McCain died last Saturday and the national news has been filed with his story, work and funeral arrangements. I watched his Arizona funeral today. One of the television pundits commented, as we watched the family file in, that she couldn’t imagine how his seven children were feeling at the loss of their father.
I silently noted that she must not have lost a parent yet. Because if she had she’d know how easy it is to imagine how they feel.
“You didn’t have your dad as long as you’d like, but you got everything you need from him.”*
Watching them during the service, and especially as they followed the casket back out after I was right back at my mother’s funeral, and at my dad’s a few months later.
I know the feeling of standing, knees weak, at the pulpit and staring out over a standing-room-only crowd wondering if I could get the words out. I remember how it felt to smile after, shaking hands, accepting hugs, while all the time feeling totally numb.
“This I promise you – you know you’re going to make it when one day you see an image of your dad and a smile touches your lips before a tear fills your eye.”*
I know the feeling of disbelief. I know that it feels like you’re walking through mud, how the days each last an eternity, yet fly by too quickly. How that final goodbye shreds your insides.
And then this afternoon, on a highway out in New Mexico, a semi truck had a tire malfunction and crossed the median, striking a Greyhound bus head on. There are multiple deaths. Even more injuries. Families are even now receiving that phone call.
The cycle of loss never ends.
Today I seem to be enveloped in grief. Old grief for my family, new grief at recent national losses. Stabbing grief at the knowledge that more families are, tonight, beginning their own personal trek through darkness.
But I know what Joe Biden knows. That tomorrow will be a new day and the sun will shine again. And those of us that feel the pain this deeply are the lucky ones. Because we knew true love.
And true love never dies.
*Quotes above are paraphrased from Vice President Biden’s eulogy for John McCain today. They touched something inside of me, because he was exactly right.