Today I “attended” my first online funeral. I would have stood graveside and sat shiva if not for the Coronavirus crisis. My friend’s father passed from an illness that preceded the pandemic.
He was a beautiful man, praised this morning by his widow, with whom he raised three outstanding children. My friend and her siblings all tearfully spoke on my screen, followed by all six of their children, sharing memories of their Papa.
They told tales of his love of family, sports, dirty jokes, and Dewar’s. I also love his family and sports, and we shared more than a few dirty jokes over many more than a few Dewar’s. I raise one to him now while writing.
It hurt not to be there for my friend today. This is the week I usually spend in Milwaukee with my family, and I would have driven to Detroit for the funeral. But I cancelled Midwest plans because my family fears infection so deeply they would not let me visit.
Pandemic protocol also might have kept me from my friend’s family. Even if not, hugs and handholding would have been out of the question.
The only good that comes from most deaths is a heightened sense of the preciousness of life. Mourning together, supporting each other, we are more mindful of what’s important.
It’s an evil irony that we’re deprived that now – at least in the flesh, face-to-face, literal and metaphorical masks lowered – in a time when so many die alone and so many more seek solace. Still, I give thanks for the life we celebrated today, so well lived that whoever knew him at all will follow his lead in making the most of our time, breathing deeply of life, even knowing that any breath we draw, even in the company of friends and family, may prove fatal.
Series starts at Coronavirus Diary: Introduction