I arrived early, the parking lot speckled with colored metal inhabited by other grievers. Slowly, they emerged, dressed mostly in customary black, while I clutched a tissue willing myself not to cry before I even entered the mega church.
I was alone, waiting for a friend I'd met on Twitter, a friend likely introduced by the newly deceased, a mom and marketer like me, only she was five years younger. A mere 34.
The black town car pulled up behind the hearse, and I found myself talking to the spirit of Whitney, who died after a battle with chronic lung disease. I don't even remember exactly what I said to her, though I'm sure there were some, "I'm sorries," and "this sucks," thrown in there. The people Whitney loved most stepped out of the town car: her little boys, four and seven, all dressed up in sweaters and khaki pants, and her husband and parents.
Fast forward to the following Saturday, and again, the streets are lined with cars, only this time some of the guests are wearing black while others sport spring attire, fitting for the warm day and the party atmosphere. They clutch gift bags instead of tissues.
Inside, the halls swarm with guests and the hum of happy chatter. I squeeze the guest of honor, her belly incubating twin girls who will arrive in two months.
Both Saturdays were celebrations of life, and affirmation that the pendulum swings both ways. Our coming and going may be out of our control, but it is what we do with the in between that makes a life. I've come to terms with the ebb and flow of sorrow and joy, to find a safer ground on the shores of content.
"Be here," I tell myself as I hug my five-year-old a little tighter, to be fully present in the now, because I'll never get that moment back.
Causes Malena Lott Supports
world neighbors, American Lung Association, March of Dimes, Oklahoma Food Bank