God gave us memories so we could have roses in December. - Anonymous.
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly: What is essential is invisible to the eye. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
Two very simple quotes with so much wrapped within. They remind us that what we love is still very much a part of us, a part of who we are.
We have the memories, and these memories like flowers in a garden, can be gathered anytime we need to be uplifted. Think of the last time you brought home a bouquet of flowers to brighten up your home, especially if the day had been gloomy and gray. The beauty of the colors, the types of flowers and the scent, all filled your senses, helping you find a bit of sunshine in the midst of all the gloom.
Our memories are just the same, they fill us with a sense of warmth, remembrance and love. They are the sunshine through the dark days of grief, they are the joy through our acceptance, and they fill us with a love that never dies. They are definitely our 'roses in December.'
Of course, it is when we look upon all this through the heart and not our minds, that we begin to realize that we are not alone. Our loved one is always with us, has always been with us, even though we can no longer see them, we see them with our hearts. We can feel their love, their very essence all around us, they are as near as our heart. The mind cannot perceive what the heart understands.
Memories, I believe, are so very important, and when our loved one dies, we not only need to remember them, we want to share these memories with others. When Rachel died, I decided to share some words of remembrance at her funeral Mass. This was my opportunity to not only say a few words, but to help those present have a glimpse of who Rachel was and what she meant to us. I also knew that her death would raise a lot of questions, especially since she was young. All her friends were present, many of her cousins were there, there was young and old alike, and all wondering, 'Why.'
So I wrote some words of remembrance (elegy) that I shared on the day of her funeral on September 16, 2006. This is what I wrote and shared:
Daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin and friend.
Rachel (which is Hebrew for Ewe or Beautiful) was and is a beautiful individual, a precious gift that we have had and shared for 24 years. She was a young woman who always wore a smile; her eyes lit up when she saw someone she loved and cared for. Even when she herself may have been hurting, she tried to make you stop hurting. She would make us laugh, smile and simply forget about our troubles if even only for a little while.
The holidays, gatherings and any occasion for celebration was something Rachel loved and looked forward to. She would always call and ask if she could bring a friend or two or three. Even though she already knew the answer, she always asked anyway just to hear me say, 'You know everyone is always welcome; I've made tons of food.' She shared our family philosophy: 'There is always room for one more.'
Rachel was someone who gave of herself unselfishly, she had a strength that she herself did not realize she possessed. She had the ability to make you feel loved and at that moment as if you were the most important person to her. Your burdens became hers, your joys and triumphs also hers. She was always a hug away.
I know her Dad and I are going to miss her; that smile, her laugh and the warmth she shared freely. But we know that she is always going to be in our hearts, always a presence in our lives; and if you will let her, in your lives too!
Don't feel anger or bitterness, this is not unfair or unjust; but simply a call to come home. To be free from the trappings of this world and to be home were she has been welcomed into Jesus' embrace. Rachel has fulfilled her mission and has accomplished so much more than many of us will in a life time. Just look around you and you will see that she has managed to move mountains. She has brought so many of us together to spend some time with her, to laugh and share our fondest memories of her; and even give us a chance to stop and spend time with those we may have not seen in a while.
We may have lost our daughter and we know that we will be unable to hug and kiss her or simply hold her hand, but we know she is hugging and kissing us at this very moment and I definitely know she his holding my hand! But one thing is for certain, that because of Rachel, we have gained so many more children through her friends. So many of you have called us mom and dad, and we would be honored if you still feel like you can.
Rachel we are so proud of you and the wonderful person you became and we will always cherish everything you brought into our lives. We love you and now await that day when we can ask, 'Rachel can I bring a friend.'
With all our love,
Mom, Dad, Andrea & Jacob
And Rachel, Sebastian is wagging his tail as I write this...I Love You!
These words allowed me to share my daughter then and now. I hadn't read this in a while, and I had forgotten some of what I had written and realize that even then, I knew the memories were important. That the memories would be what sustained me. I guess my heart could see what my mind had yet to grasp.
If you didn't get a chance to write words of remembrance when your loved one died, you can still do it now. Take a few moments to write down everything they meant to you, everything you would want someone to know about them. Get the tissues ready, have them nearby and just allow yourself to write, to cry, to laugh, to see with your heart. I cried when I wrote this over four years ago, and I cried tonight as I typed it into this post.
Just know that you are loved, that you loved and that your life would not have been the same had you not had this person in your life. That you would be missing out on all they had to give, all they had to offer, and how they enriched your life. Let that be what sustains you, what brings you your 'roses in December.'
I miss Rachel a lot, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her, wishing I could see her one more time. Yet my heart sees her all the time, because she is always there, and also because, 'What is essential is invisible to the eye.'
Blessings! and until we meet again.