Memorial

I just received a phone call from my friend….a friend who has been in my life since 1973.  She gave me the news that one of the ‘hippies’ in our lives passed away just the night before last and that from as far away as Vancouver, people are gathering this afternoon in a little house on 10A in south Lethbridge to give recognition of his life.  So, while this is quite a ‘twist’, I think I’ll be heading down the highway for a memorial this afternoon and then flying north on the highway again for the celebration of another beautiful friend’s 50th birthday.
 
I think about why I’m taking the time to write here…
 
…but it’s important.
 
The concept really is about friendship and family.  I think that while I am passionate about so many things in my life, I have to say that at the very center of everything is the question…."Have I loved well?"  I remember when I lost Lynn, right up until the end, there were the sweet and kind gestures shared around love.  She had much to give me in the way of affirmation and love right up until she left.  As the end nears, the gestures of love become more and more simple.  And this takes us down to the very nature of love and life.  The hand-holding….the "I love yous" with every coming-and-going….the sharing of ice chips and jello….the brushing of hair.
 
When my children were just little, I remember brushing their hair.  With my son, I remember those times after bathing him…his hair was wet and I would draw a perfect part and brush his hair so that even then, he was my handsome young man.  I remember the girls and their pony tails…..the smooth long strokes of my brush upward, eventually pulling their hair into perfect pony tails….the sound of static electricity….the wrapping of elastic bands around my hand and circling them again and again around my daughters’ hair.  The bits of soft curl that weren’t swept up creating beautiful soft tendrils around their open faces.  I remember these things as though they happened just this morning…
 
I brushed Lynn’s hair in her hospital room…and it felt no different.  And the moment had that amazing transforming power over me…and I was reminded that this is truly how simple life is.
 
I am sad that we have lost Cliff this week….very sad….I am sad for his loving wife and his only son.  But truth is, this passing brings to mind a summer of living and loving and learning….it brings to memory an entire host of experiences like the brushing of hair.  It brings to mind a point on the compass of my own life.
 
Today we will gather in a circle of friendship to remember the ‘music’ of Cliff’s life.  This loss has reminded me that friendships are dear and that nothing can be taken for granted.  Yes….with time, friendships change shape…some friendships surprisingly deepen….others seem to quietly disappear….it is sad to say that some friendships end sadly, with the same feeling as a divorce holds. But today I am thinking that our lives are truly marked by the punctuation of friendship and it is something to take pause and wonder about.

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