Bryan was big on tradition, especially when it came to how someone was honored at the end of his life. He had had experience with such things. He had lost all of his grandparents, his brother, his parents, a cousin; and he saw the tradition as a means to honor the dead and give comfort and closure to the family.
I, on the other hand, had no experience with such things. All of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and parents are still with me. (I pray our children have my genes.) I am much more introverted than Bryan. (The "in front of people" things that I've done have been at his side or at least at his request.) In the past, we've debated the value of things like visitations and big public funerals. Bryan said that those traditions had been established for a reason. People need to grieve together. I insisted that grief would make me feel like going into a cave all by myself.
And it does. But that's not really a good thing.
So, as I sat next to Bryan that last week, I struggled with how to handle the funeral arrangements. My chief problem was that I did NOT want to have a visitation the night before the funeral. I really didn't think I could handle being surrounded by loving, sympathetic friends. (You extroverts are thinking I'm crazy, but you introverts are right there with me right now.) I went back and forth in my mind, but I finally knew that I HAD to do it. Bryan would have wanted it, and I needed to honor that.
Bryan passed Friday afternoon, and Saturday and Sunday, I felt myself getting sucked into the black hole of grief. I felt angry, lonely, hopeless. The days seemed endless. Then Sunday afternoon, we prepared to go to the visitation. As we got ready to go to the car, I thought (and may have said), "I'm staying here. I can't do this." But I got in the car anyway.
We got to the funeral home, and there were a few members of my family and a couple of friends who might as well be family already there. They were showing the slide show of Bryan's pictures, and we all cried as we watched them. Then, I saw the first people begin to walk up. I looked in panic toward the exit, but stayed put.
And I talked to people. I listened as they told me how much Bryan had meant to them. We hugged and cried together. Everyone was so encouraging.
Two things in particular, though, happened, that were, I am sure "divine appointments." One of Bryan's fellow deacons, Greg, told me that he had lost his father when he was three. He said that although he had missed out on having a dad, the men at church surrounded him and supported him, teaching him to hunt and fish, and just helping him grow up. That gave me such hope for the future for all of my sweet boys!
Then, one of our AWANA helpers, Linda, told me that she had been in my situation. Her husband was the same age as Bryan and she was right about my age when he passed. She had two children at the time. Linda was able to tell me that although it may not seem possible right now, there is still life after grief.
So, as I came home from the dreaded visitation which had turned into such a blessing, I was able to say, one more time, "Honey, you were right."