This morning I am attending a memorial service for a very wonderful woman.
I met Bea Cobb two years ago when I was dating her grandson. Bea and my daughter hit it off right away and she was very kind and gracious to my family when we spent Thanksgiving with my then-boyfriend and his family. She was a smart cookie and surprised anyone who thought her frail-looking state meant her mind was frail, too. She played a game called “Shut the Box” with my daughter and on multiple occasions I saw her playing “Scrabble” with her daughter. She was a fine woman and I was blessed to know her.
Attending this service will remind me not only of my own mortality, but the mortality of my own grandparents. They, too, loved to play games with each other and their family. I have fond memories of playing Uno and Yahtzee and Upwords with them, among other favorites. Unfortunately, they do not have these memories. Not anymore. Grandpa still remembers a lot more than Grandma does, but it is very hard remembering every time I visit that these are not the grandparents I grew up loving. The Alzheimer’s has changed them, taken away my grandparents. And though they are still alive, I mourn the loss of the life they had together and the life they had with their family.
My church’s tradition in mourning the death of a member is not a funeral; it is a memorial service, a celebration of life. We celebrate the person that has left us and we remember who they were to their family and friends. And though we celebrate them, we also mourn them. We cry for ourselves and the rest of the people our loved one has left behind. Mourning together at a service does not ease the pain, but it does change it. It helps us to remember that we are not alone in our grief, but everyone around us grieves with us, no matter how long they had known the deceased. And when you look around the church, you see people of all ages both happy and sad for the one who is gone. Some are old and were life-long friends, some are old and had only recently established the friendship. Some are young and barely knew the person, and some are young but had known them for their whole lives. Some may not have known the deceased at all, but they attend the service to show their love and support for the grieving family.
I knew Bea Cobb for only a short while. But her family, the people she raised, have touched my life in ways I cannot express.
So today I mourn the loss of Bea. And I grieve with her family and offer them my shoulder to cry on, my arms to hug and my heart to break along with theirs.
In loving memory… Bea.