Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Funerals and Holidays

Why is it that there are so many funerals around this time of year? One church in our community has three THIS WEEK.

For almost 30 years, a young man I knew struggled with Muscular Dystrophy. His mom and my mom have been best friends for as long as I can remember. Remarkably, he lived longer than the average child with MD. He had Duchenne's disease, which prevents the production of a normal protein in muscles. Most children who are diagnosed with this form of MD die in their early twenties.

He died last Friday. Yesterday would have been his 31st birthday. For him, I know that this was a blessing. He was getting sicker and sicker, and breathing was even too much of a task for him. I know it was his time, and for him... he's at peace. In fact, I'm sure he's doing the things that he hasn't done since he was about 4 or 5. He's running, he's playing soccer, he's dancing.

I got to go to MDA camp with him about the time he started having trouble walking. He was just the cutest kid... white blond hair, dimples, and the sweetest face. He was such a funny kid... his one-liners were always delivered quietly, but with such wit. That was something he never lost, even in adulthood.

This was a child who became an adult trapped inside his own body. He lived with his parents. His only social life was his family. His parents' lives revolved around him. They did have respite care sometimes... but they have adapted their whole lives to taking care of him.

Now he's gone. How do his parents carry on? They, too, are relieved that his suffering and pain are gone. What will they do in the middle of the night when they wake up listening for his monitors, and then remember? What will they do when they're out running errands... racing to get everything done in an hour -- because they can't leave him home alone for too long-- and then remember that they no longer need to rush? How do they pull into the driveway of a home that has been remodeled for wheelchair access?

Yesterday was his funeral-- and his birthday. His mom said, "God gave him to me on this day, and I'll give him back to God on the same day."

She asked me to sing for the funeral. I have NO problem singing for funerals... for people I don't know. Singing for a funeral when you know the person in the coffin... when you know the family is really difficult. Singing for a funeral as you watch grieving parents burying their child is almost unbearable. So, even though I knew almost all the music by heart, I kept my nose in the printed music, so that I could make it through the songs.

When I arrived at the church... I knew everything would be okay. His dad asked if I would sing something from ... ZZTop. After we laughed, I knew everything would be okay... and that healing had already begun.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. How horrible it must be to lose anyone, especially this time of year when families look forward to getting together.

You're right though; there are too many funerals this time of year. One of Matt's childhood friends' brothers was just murdered a week ago. He was decapitated in his parents' driveway, in his Lexus SUV. His head has still not been found.

Death is hard any time, but I'm sure it has to be infinitely more difficult during this festive season. How can you be festive when one of your loved ones is gone? I'm sorry for your loss, M.