On a recent trip to Baton Rouge we attended a wake for Miss Ola, a family friend that had passed away at 102 years of age. It was different from any other wake I have ever attended. It was not a dirge, but a celebration. We drank, we ate, we told stories, and the men even snuck away to shoot a few games of pool. It was what every wake should be, a time to honor and celebrate the life of someone who lived long and well. Unfortunately, far too often in life, beautiful vibrant lives are cut far too short for seemingly no good reason.
This past month has not been a good one for my beautiful fiancée. In the past few weeks she has a had a friend die suddenly and unexpectedly, and another who is now in hospice with terminal cancer. It is hard to reconcile death under the best of circumstances, but when you see friends cut down in their prime, it is especially devastating.
I would love to be able to write an eloquent, elegiac epitaph for these two men, something befitting what they meant and mean to their family and friends, but I am at a loss for words. Even if I had the words, I didn’t really know either one except through the circumspect world of Facebook. All I can really offer is my love and support for those still here.
I will say I am angry, although I know it is a useless emotion. I want to strike out at what lies beyond the void, the relentless force that seems to heap sorrows upon us, but I know that will do no good. So instead, I choose to celebrate.
Miss Ola’s wake taught me that a well lived life, no matter how long or short, is worth celebrating. The people of Louisiana have taught me that it is better to laugh and dance through tears; that bringing people together in celebration is the antidote to sorrow. While it won’t change what happened, it does say, defiantly “Yes, we are still here! We are still alive.” Sometimes that is all you can do, simply persevere. So we will celebrate with a heavy heart, hoping that our friends find the peace of eternal rest, and at every opportunity, we will raise a glass to their memory.
The next Margarita at Zippy’s is on me.