I had the bittersweet experience of a funeral for a friend this week. A fine celebration of a life lived well and welcome words expressing not her bravery fighting her cancer but her anger at having to leave before she wanted and her frustration at not having completed her mission to make the world a better place (though for sure, she made a big dent in that one).
I don’t have a belief system – I’m a humanist at heart and don’t need any order to belong to. I don’t have a strong afterlife affinity. I think we just return to the unknowness of life before birth… except we leave some traces, marks, memories, echoes, maybe even a tangible legacy of a sort and hopefully, no debt. But I can’t help being moved by nature’s afterlife suggestions in life’s liminal spaces … as someone moves to a state of decline, on the point of death, in the not-a-normal-day space of preparing for a funeral and saying our goodbyes.
In the past, I felt my mum in the room when a butterfly appeared – unseasonably – as my dad moved towards his decline. I felt her again when a seal popped up to swim with me off on the shores of Eigg and Kintyre… my pensive moments with space for ‘other’.
When we left the funeral gathering for our feisty friend – a drummer, singer, mother, sister, friend, walker, activist, unionist, art lover, explorer – 4 white geese or swans – just an outline in the dark, literally skimmed our heads, honking their way to pastures new, the loudest shout of ‘onward and upwards’ in the spirit of Fiona.
What a gift!
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