Friday, February 02, 2007

In Memory ...

I went to the funeral of a former boss - a true leader and someone to whom I was very close - yesterday in her hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi. It is a 2-hour drive from Tuscaloosa, and on a cold, rainy, gray, dreary winter day, I had much time to reflect on her life and how many hurdles she had faced, particularly her nearly 3-year battle with cancer.

It was melancholy, of course, and I felt somewhat guilty. Guilty because I didn't do enough to visit and maximize my friendship while she was sick, guilty that I was happy I would see my cousin, as well as former co-workers from Arkansas who I miss very much, and guilty that I have been so blessed in life (so far) as to not have suffered the loss of many loved ones to terminal illness. I felt badly for her brother, who like her lost his father when they were small children, then lost his mother and sister both within a year of each other to the same type of cancer. That is a heavy cross to bear.

The service alleviated that guilt from me. Because while the pastor did not really know my friend (she had moved before he began serving the church), my friend, diligent as she always was, had written a speech on her life and achievements that she was asked to give a few years ago during a homecoming at her church. He read most of her speech verbatim, and it was so eloquent and beautiful, and exactly Her.

I left her funeral sad to know she was gone, but happy to know she wasn't suffering, and very blessed to've been afforded the opportunity to make the trip to Tupelo. Instead of someone speaking about her, she spoke to us through someone, and it was a message of joy.

I love gospel music, spirituals, and hymns. They move me, and remind me of my upbringing. A song I'd never heard until it was released on the Trio II album in 1999, is called "When We're Gone, Long Gone." It reminds me of my friend.

Trouble, we have known trouble
In our struggle just to get by
Many times the burden's been heavy
Still we carried on side by side

And when we're gone long gone
The only thing that will have mattered
Is the love that we shared
And the way that we cared
When we're gone, long gone

And when we're walking together in glory
Hand in hand through eternity
It's the love that will be remembered
Not wealth, not poverty

And when we're gone long gone
The only thing that will have mattered
Is the love that we shared
And the way that we cared
When we're gone, long gone

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