"The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure."
Funerals are strange. They make you think. They make you ponder, assess, and remember. But then... a few days pass, weeks pass, and eventually years pass.
One of the most difficult parts of a loss is the change of focus. Life is like driving a car. We glance in our rear-view mirrors, but we don't gaze in them, at least not while we are moving. Life moves and as drivers we are required to look forward.
Upon losing a loved one, or a job, or a home, sometimes our focus becomes the rear-view mirror of life. I've learned not to dwell there. The heart of the wise may be in the house of mourning, but the heart of the wise also recognizes that life has seasons, or times...
"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace."
Times change and we learn to change with them. Last year I changed teaching assignments. I put in a transfer from a junior high to an elementary school. This self-inflicted change brought with it an unexpected period of mourning, especially as the summer was ending. I thought, I'll miss my old friends. I'll miss the students. I'll miss the events and the routines I've grown to love...
I caught myself looking too long in the rear-view mirror, so I got the keys to my new room and started building some new memories. I still have the old memories, but they are not my constant focus. Sometimes when I'm driving, I notice a really good vista, in the rear-view mirror. I'll tell my wife to check her side mirror. We ooh and ahh for a moment, then we re-focus on the road ahead.
There is a time to look back, and there is a time to look forward. The past and the future deserve some consideration, but we must not forget... the only day we have for living is today. The house of mourning helps us realize what matters the most, what present moments to savor, and what choices to make... today.
My Dad would have been 80 on August 23rd. He died in 1996 about three weeks before my first wife. I visited Patti's grave yesterday. "Born 1952 - Died 1996." We picked out the gravestone before she died. (She had cancer.) We put my name on it too. (Not an idea I recommend in retrospect.) Your name may not be on a gravestone, yet, but if you're reading this... you are... living your dash... that little line between day of birth and day of death.
So, as long as it is called today... live. the. dash. (Look forward.)