Barb passed away on October 18th, her birthday.
Have you ever gone to a funeral for someone you didn't know? I don't mean a friend's grandmother. I mean someone that you are not connected to in any way. Well that's what Amanda and I did this morning. I didn't even know Barb's last name. As I am writing this, I looked back at the email I received. It is Ward. Barb Ward's life was celebrated today.
Amanda was invited to dress in her Irish Dance dress and come to the funeral to honor Barb's life. Barb was an adult Irish dancer with the Nicholl School for fourteen years. Amanda has been with the school for the last eight. Our paths may have crossed but I never met Barb.
After the service at St. Bede's Catholic Church, the dancers lined up across from each other. They stood hand in hand. When the service was over, every one lifted their hands. I thought of Moses. I didn't know the story but I knew that two people held up his hands when he got tired. It's Exodus 17. I watched the people come out of the church crying. I watched the adult dancers crying to. I was on the verge of tears as well.
I felt so honored to be part of this group. I am NOT a dancer. Amanda is. But I was given "The Sweater and Black Shamrock Scarf" to wear.
Let me back up and tell you about the service...Mass, for Barb. It was beautiful. Those old familiar Catholic feelings came back. The routine of saying the same prayers, same songs, same responses came so easily. The last time I was at a funeral (and it just happened to be Catholic) was Dad's. It is coming up on a year in December already. It's hard to believe he has been gone that long. I was very disappointed by the Priest at Dad's funeral and how impersonal it/he was. My heart was broken by Dad's death and then when the church would not let us give a eulogy, play the songs we wanted to and read the scripture I chose (John 14:6), again my heart was broken. But God in His sovereignty did allow Dad's church to OK one of the scriptures: 1 Timothy 2:5-6:
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.
With all that being said, I sat with a guarded heart. And to my shock and surprise, the Priest read the Gospel, my chosen scripture, John 14:6. I almost burst in to tears. The Priest was a born-again Christian. It was then that I felt the Hope of Jesus. After communion (which we did not take out of respect because we are not following the "rules") Barb's daughter gave a eulogy. She described her mom and I could imagine Barb reflecting the face of Jesus. One thing that touched me so deeply was when she said that Barb was aching because she knew her children were aching and that she could not take care of them the way she wanted to. As a mother, that struck my heart's chords.
After the Mass, I was thinking about how I would be described at my funeral. I said to Amanda, make sure everyone knows that I adored my husband and adored my children but I lived for Christ. I don't think I really needed to say those words. Amanda knows.
We decided to go to the cemetery. I just felt we needed to. At the grave site, Barb's husband of 30+ years talked about how each one of their young adult children were unique in their own way. And each child had a different aspect of their mother. As we walked back to the car, I said to Amanda, even in her death she is changing lives. She touched us so dearly. Barb was a servant. She was a magnet. Everyone wanted to be around her. It makes me want to strive to be like that. Will people say that about me when I am gone?
God placed the right songs on the radio as we drove to the cemetery also. First we heard The Way by Jeremy Camp. Then we heard this song (Cry Out to Jesus by Third Day). Wow, God is so good. He knows our heavy hearts. How can my heart not be heavy for this family? They have just lost their beloved mother. Death is so final. One second we are here and the next we are not. We are just a vapor.
I thought of the lyrics from Steven Curtis Chapman's song With Hope. Music comforts me. Some people eat. Some people drink. Some people shop. I listen to music...and cry.
"If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." Romans 10:9-10
I guess I am feeling melancholy (sad, gloomy or depressed). Funerals can do that to you. I don't know about you but they make me think about life insurance and arrangements. They make me think about songs and poems. They make me think about the LEGACY that I will leave behind. But all that's for another day.
Today I will make cookies with my beautiful Irish dancer and make the memories that one day she will pass on...in remembrance of another Irish dancer named Barb Ward.
"His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!" Matthew 25:21