No, this isn’t an obituary to my blog, though considering the level of inactivity this year, I suppose you could declare it brain dead.
Did that metaphor make sense? No? Good. I’ve still got it.
But yes, I’ve been just a bit stressed for time these days, especially now that my training is done and I’m officially on permanent status. My restricted time on the internet is spent either reading blogs, sports news or chatting with people in time zones that really mess with my sleep cycle, none of which inspire a blog post.
And then I went to church.
It was one of the weekends that I was at home, and as usual I was busy trying to cram in all the things that I missed out during the week, i.e. dongle-free internet, movies, home cooked food, and driving (I really, really miss driving!). However, in an attempt to infuse my short weekend stay with more ‘family time’, my parents decided that I should come with them for a memorial service. You know what they say; nothing brings the family together like a corpse.
So I swing by, reluctantly, while pondering the appropriate ‘game face’ to put on while at a memorial service. Not too sad (it’s not the funeral) and not too relaxed (you’re supposed to miss the man). It was the 1 year death anniversary of a family acquaintance, an old planter that used to come to our church, and as I sat in the pews reading the order of the service, I realized that this was actually the first time I had attended a memorial service.
It was rather awkward for me personally, watching this little parade of children and grandchildren telling the assembly how much they miss this man. It seemed unnecessary to me; surely this would be better suited for a more private and personal gathering. However, the best was definitely saved for last, when the widow and the pastor got up to tell what a fantastic, god-fearing, church-loving man he was. How they could do so with a straight face, heaven only knows. They might as well have told me he was the antichrist's secretary.
After ensuring I had indeed heard this right, I started to wonder how people could be so forgiving of those that have passed before us. It’s almost as if insults are forgiven by the time the body hits the floor, debts are forgiven by the time of the homily and extra-marital affairs and murder are forgiven by the time the sand starts piling up on the casket.
So is it only in death that we activate our ‘human spirit’? Do we have to wait till our last breath has come and gone to see compassion, concern and selective amnesia in our fellow man? I’m reminded of Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer”, when he and his friends staged their own funeral to milk the sympathy that they knew would be overflowing for them, despite them being a public nuisance.
When I was very young, I didn’t see much of my father as he worked late, and so my five year old brain devised a way to ‘check’ how much I missed him. I would imagine him dying, or imagine hearing of his death, and then if I felt immensely sad about it, then I knew that I really did care and I really did miss him.
Silly, stupid, terrible – and yet, perhaps apt.