Sadly, I just found out that we’ve lost a little sunshine in our group. I’ve known Dale for some years, and was always amazed by his energy, and his ready smile; by his infectious upbeatness. Dale was quite a story-teller, and engaged in vigorous debate at our meetings, as well as regularly generating discussion on our group listserve. Heck of a nice guy. He, and his intellect, will be missed.
I just spoke to Marilyn, Dale’s widow, and we shared a few memories after she told me about Dale’s final days. She said he never complained, or got whiny or difficult, despite his bleak prognosis.
He just hurt.
I recognized her process, since I had just gone through it with my late father. Dale seemed to rally, but then, seemingly suddenly, he was gone. Maybe people who deal with sick people every day recognize and understand what they’re looking at, but us non-professionals rarely do. It’s just too hard to believe that someone can go from alive to not alive in just a day or so. Alive seems to mean so much – thinking, maybe walking, talking, eating; surely these are amazing feats requiring a lot of life force. How can that disappear so suddenly?
Instead of a funeral, the family will be having a Dale Celebration Day sometime soon. Dale was cremated.
I guess we’re just at that age, where we are going to more funerals than weddings. Randall was just talking at last night’s meeting about his father having died last month. One of the things we talked about was the rituals one encounters at funerals. Randall said that the ritual performed by the military personnel was very moving, and it reminded me of all the ritual associated with my father’s catholic funeral and burial. Ritual, done well, can add dignity and comfort to the grieving process; since rituals are unusual, they make visible the fact that this event is meaningful; and express more fully the significance of the event as felt by the grieving. I don’t think freethinkers should shy away from including meaningful rituals in ceremonies marking important life events.
Life is too short – make sure that the sunshine in your life knows today how much they matter to you.