During the week, I often consider what I’ll be writing about in Mondays with Mom. I look for things that are out of the ordinary or things that are so ordinary they deserve a mention. This week the subject was too difficult, but loss needs to be remembered.
For thirteen years, I worked at a local college in the music and theater departments. I loved working with the kids and was grateful to be their friend and advocate. The loss of that position was very difficult for me and I have missed the relationships I was able to develop with each new incoming class. During those thirteen years, I grew to love so many of the students as my “own” kids and have continued being a part of their lives as they married and had children.
After graduation, they flew to many different locations around the South and even around the world. Unfortunately, I’ve lost daily contact with many of them. It was inevitable since their lives of adventure took them out and away while I stayed here. I keep up with many of them through Facebook, but that’s not the same as having a cup of coffee together.
One of my precious kids died this week. I often joked that Jacob would fit perfectly into my family of “J” names and I would be glad to adopt him. His life of twenty-five years was full of fun, joy, silliness, and amazing friendships. I often worked with Jacob as a music director, but my favorite memory is sharing the stage with him during “9 to 5: The Musical.” It had been a while since I’d had a big role and the memorizing was wearing me out. The dance had been simplified for me, but I still struggled. I’ll never forget the day Jacob stayed with me in the PAC (the dance room with the full length mirror) and ran the dance with me over and over. I’m not sure I ever got the moves correct, but it wasn’t for lack of effort!
At the funeral on Saturday, the room was filled with his family, extended family, high school friends, and row after row of his college buddies. Many of his friends spoke of his gentle spirit, listening ear, and great hugs. Many of us wore bandanas since that was Jacob’s favorite fashion accessory. For many of the college kids, I imagine this was their first loss of a peer.
When I came back to Mom, I thought of all the family and friends she’s lost over the years. Her daddy died when she was a teenager. She’s lost brothers, sisters, a mother, and grandsons. Because of great faith and trust in Jesus, she didn’t lose them forever. However, they are no longer in this world and I know she misses them.
This week, I keep reciting the poem I’d like spoken at my funeral. Much like the *ship that passes out of sight on the horizon, this idea of the next room brings me much comfort. For Jacob’s family and friends and others experiencing the death of someone beloved, perhaps it will do the same for you:
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near, just round the corner.
All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!
~ Henry Scott Holland