November 21st, 2009 by Karen
Today, was a difficult day. By far one of the hardest days of my adult life.
Today we buried Stephen.
He was my brother’s very best friend, so much so that Stephen was the brother he never had and vice versa. They brought out the good in each other and he’s been around for so very long that it’s hard to believe he’s really gone. Last Thursday evening, with his beloved wife Rosemary by his side, Stephen lost a long, hard fought battle with cancer. He leaves a hole in so many hearts…a testament to his undying and unwavering love for others.
Personally, I’ve always had a difficult time with my tears. I admit it…I cry easily. Part of it I’m sure is inherited from my mother, but part of it is that I can feel the grief of those around me profoundly. At times, I have set foot in hospitals and simply burst into tears from the overwhelming emotion that washes over me. Sometimes this is a blessing…I can tell when people are hiding their grief, but sometimes the constant tide dashes me against the proverbial rocks and I find it difficult to maintain my composure for any extended period of time.
This morning at the graveside, was one of those moments…from the first second I saw Rosemary until I got back in my car, there were tears on my face. I cried for her…for the loss of her beloved husband, that she won’t be able to grow old with him, that she has to experience widowhood at such a young age, for her broken heart. I cried for his mother and father, Marlene and Dave, that they had to bury their only son who brought so much joy to their lives, that they would never again go golfing with him or be able to hug him tight. I cried for his little sister, Christina, for the loss of her big brother, her hero. I cried for his grandparents, who I’m sure never considered that they would ever be burying a grandchild. I cried for his in-laws, who grew to love him as a son and a brother, for he filled a special place in their lives too that will forever now be empty. I cried for his adorable nephews, E and Marsh, who are so small that their memories of their uncle will be smudged by time. I cried for his friends, Charlie and Kate and Andrew and Daniella and Nathan and Eric and so many others, that they have lost their friend and confidant and with his illness and passing, some of their own innocence. And finally, I cried for my little brother, for his loss of his best friend, his brother by choice, his golf and baseball buddy and for his own unexpressed bottomless grief that I can see in his eyes and for my inability to do anything to fix it.
After Stephen’s funeral and memorial today, I had the long, quiet drive home alone in the dark to think. Upon reflection of this morning’s chilly mourning, the following words filled my heart and brought me a modicum of peace…I know Stephen is home. And in time, we will see him again.
of grey and tears
glide quietly through the crowd of somber faces
weeping silently for vanished years
of tea and coffee
of crooked smiles
of grass and sky
of growing old
as so many do
and some may not
grief etched deep
and ache more plentiful than clouds
heaped on empty bellies
and broken souls
Angels weep soft tears of their own sorrow upon
wife, mother, father, sister, brother, family, friends
and icy wind rips the unspoken scream
from dashed hearts
resounding across the empty sky
with a whispered wail
tempered only by the final sound
of God’s soft breath on chimes
carrying him home
on a single sweet tone