I went to a funeral this past Friday of someone very special to me. He was like a father to me, and he was just a great guy! As I stared at his body–like I have stared at the frame of many others I’ve buried–I couldn’t help but have a flood of memories. There lay the frame of a man which was the antithesis of his character. There lay a silent frame. Mr. T (as I affectionately called him) was always full of life and making me laugh. There lay a cold frame. Mr. T was literally warm and figuratively warmed everyone who was blessed enough to be in his presence. He looked so much like his lively self I kept expecting him to sit up any moment and make me laugh!
I have a funeral ritual that I began almost twenty years ago when I lost my close cousin. I take home one of the plants from the funeral just to keep and take care of in honor of the person I loved and lost (with the family’s permission of course). When I brought Mr. T’s plant home, I watered my other plants…one being a plant I brought home from Mrs. T’s funeral, who preceded her husband in death a year ago. As I watered the plants, I began to knead the soil and pray for the families connected to the love one of that particular plant. And I cried. But, then I glanced over at my smallest plant.
I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed, but my small plant had blossomed! You see this smaller plant was really an experiment. At one point, I could not salvage a potted plant which was also a plant from a loved one’s funeral, so I took its one good leaf and re-potted it. I kept expecting the leaf to die, but it never did. As a matter of fact, it sort of became a household watch for me and the boys to see how it would grow and thrive.
For a while it was by itself. Me and the boys watched this plant for months and nothing happened…yet, it never died. Then, one day we saw life sprouting from the leaf. We were so excited! Then we saw another leaf form, and just sort of stopped watching it.
But now, on this particular day, I noticed it. The one leaf that me and the boys watched for what seemed like an eternity had finally died. And, as I pruned the dead leaf, I smiled at its sacrifice. It held on until five other leaves sprouted making a small plant. It held on not just until they sprouted, but it held on until they bloomed! As I walked to the trashcan to discard the leaf, I said quite unconsciously, “Well done.” And, in that small gesture, God comforted me.
I thought about Mr. T, my aunt, my uncle, my friend, my mom’s good friend, and my first love who all recently died, and I thought about the many lives they touched who bloomed because of their presence. I thought about how each of those persons influenced the tapestry of my own life, and I thought about their influence on the lives of so many others by their life AND by their death that would never have occurred had they not been born to do it. And, each one of them, now in the presence of the Lord heard, “Well done” just like my little leaf heard from me, and I smiled.