I attended a Memorial Service for the first time ever last weekend. I had always thought that Memorial Services and funerals were the same thing...but they are different...kind of like a reception after the wedding...(ok..thats a very bad analogy but its Monday morning dammit!). I am one of those ppl who usually keep grinning at funerals or cremations for some inexplicable reason. I don't find it funny...I just can't stop grinning. I know...I am a total nutcase. So you can understand my apprehensions when my American Swami asked me to accompany him to this Memorial Service in honour of Greg's (his good friend) mother Marie, who was a 3 time cancer survivor and had died at the age of 84. Swami moves around in a very eclectic circle.., so it was no surprise that Greg was a greek american who grew up in hawaii and followed a Native American Tradition while his mother Marie had been a practicing Buddhist. Swami was conducting the service..so we had Hindu chants mixed with zen wisdom, Native American singing by Greg and his friends, cedar and incense burning, flower offering, stories being read out from the Bible and quotes from the Dalai Lama. It was a very emotionally moving experience and everyone who knew Marie were sharing how strong she was..how much joy she had brought to them with her special brand of grandmotherly love. There were stories about her strength and wisdom, her love and caring and I was simply amazed at the influence this fraile lady had in the lives of so many people. This was not a sad affair at all..it was a celebration of a life very well lived and well spent. I was moved to tears by that simple fact. Here I was...just an interested spectator who did not even know this grand lady..singing praises of the divine with tears in my eyes. In the end.. each one of us were invited to offer flowers and lighted cedar leaves...at Marie's altar..and wish her good bye in our own personal way. Her son Greg..came in last ...and offered his good byes. I was so taken in by the whole atmosphere that I just froze while I witnessed this very sacred act.....a closure....a final farewell by a son to his mother.
I went there afraid that I'll make a fool of myself by smiling and grinning...but came out sniffing and wiping my tears. Goodbye Marie...and thank you.