My young cousin Felicia died at an early age, a victim of a car accident. I remember how broken-hearted her mother was, my Aunt Louise. The whole extended family participated in the consolation of Aunt Louise and the funeral, burial and family activities surrounding my cousin’s death.
I remember sitting at the funeral beside my mother. There was a quartet-choir of children that began to sing a plaintive, soul-reaching song with the refrain: “The Sun is Still Going to Shine.” For some reason I decided to give myself over completely to the notion of death and the intense loss that one can feel when confronted with death. The song and the picture of those beautiful children singing directly from their hearts fostered my grief and I gave into it wholeheartedly.
I remember crying so unreservedly that my mother put her arms around me and said “brace yourself”. I remember thinking, ‘it should have been me’; and I allowed that thought to foster my grief. I remember after the funeral my relatives were commenting on how ‘broken’ I seemed and how I had handled my grief in such an uninhibited fashion. Although I was aware of those whisperings I don’t remember being embarrassed by them.
I have come to realize that I had chosen to fully engage myself in this early lesson of death, grieving and healing for the experience of it. I also held the lesson of knowing that grieving ends and healing is a part of the loss cycle. This message was communicated to me in the song previously mentioned by the children’s choir messengers: ‘The Sun is Still Going to Shine’.
I remember visiting my family one Christmas Day many years later. My Aunt Louise was there laughing and making merry. I was reminded of how gracious the life process is no matter how dim it seems at certain times. By the time I began losing other close family members; other cousins, my grandmothers, aunts and uncles, my mom and dad, my two brothers; I had been steeled by the many previous losses including the loss of loves, a marriage and many of my youth-fed dreams. Thus, in my later life I was able to handle the grief of death in a more graduated and moderated fashion.
Many less final losses and challenges often spark the grieving process: moves, job changes or losses etc. These types of incidents are common today in many of our lives. Recently, we had about two or three winter-overcast days here in Houston. I had to struggle to be productive and mildly enthusiastic on every one of these days. When I woke up this morning I looked toward the window and saw the sun peeking through. Although I usually awake in prayer and consideration of my current challenges and undertakings, the vista of the sun helped to brighten my mood and outlook.
I remember the song sung so convincingly by the youth choir at Cousin Felicia’s funeral. The words continue to carry me through even these days a half a century later. One day by God’s decree, the sun will no longer rise. Until that day, we are all graced with the opportunity to continue through our earthly term. It is then our responsibility to live, work, give and love as we see fit. I am presently attempting to challenge the issues that I am currently facing in the spirit of faith and hope; and I am still remembering that soulful and soul-saving message: “The Sun is Still Going to Shine”.
February 23, 2013
For Linda Tauhid’s Journal