Time Passes

Time passes and few will notice.
Until its passing becomes a comfort,
A reminder, this life is not eternal,
Our trials and triumphs not forever.

Tears fall and few will miss them.
Until their falling from cheeks of others,
Heralds a time hardly remembered,
When emotions ran deep and daily,
And tears flowed with ease.

Friends will visit and few will cherish those moments.
Until mobility gives way to agony,
Faculty gives way to confusion,
Ease gives way to strain,
Chairs at kitchen tables give way to pews before caskets.

Emotions run raw and few will relish them.
Until loss becomes commonplace,
Demise becomes expected.
Until the end is anticipated,
Hoped for, welcomed.

Time passes and few should notice.
Until passing be our comfort.

In loving memory of Marie Rellinger.

This was written after attending the funeral of my wife’s Great Aunt Marie. At the age of 88, she willingly embraced her diagnosis of cancer and fought it with passion and grace. But just as Marie accepted the battle such a diagnosis brought with it, so too did she accept it’s eventual and inevitable outcome at 89.

Neither path was right or wrong to her — to suffer in therapy was almost an honor, a badge for her 89 years of service to this world and her Lord — to slip away at the end surrounded by family was Marie’s sweet reward. She was ready — even if we weren’t.

At the funeral I watched a whole generation of her friends share her views — proud men and proper ladies, born a decade or two into a new century past. They were not saddened by the loss, but comforted that Marie had been ‘received’. They were happy to be celebrating her life together, as friends, while there were still friends to share it with.

There were tears at Marie’s funeral, but not from her peers. The tears came from those of us too caught up in the moment to be able to reflect on what one can accomplish in 89 years. Too caught up in what it means to lose a loved one and unable to see what it means to rest after a long and fulfilling life.

I will cherish the tears while the thought of death still terrifies me. I will relish the heartache while loss still hurts. But I will bring away with me a new understanding of what it means to celebrate life and the passing of time.

Pictured in the Rellinger family portrait, clockwise from top left: Gary Rellinger, Todd Rellinger, Audrey Merrifield, Tanya Merrifield, Mary Rellinger, Marie Rellinger, Grace Merrifield.