Today I went to a Celebration of Life service for a woman who passed away a week ago from cancer. I had never met her but knew her wife from sangha and retreating together. Since I hadn’t known the woman who passed away I got the privilege and honor of learning about her via friends and family during the service today. She was a vibrant person full of humor, adventure, talent, and community spirit who loved gardening, animals, traveling, music, singing, dancing, taking pictures, biking, and writing poetry. It was a gift to hear about her through the love and memories of those who cared most for her. I was inspired and uplifted by the life she led.
As the warm autumn light shone in through the church windows there was joy, laughter, and tears amid those who had come together to cherish, remember, and mourn this sweet woman. How grateful I am to have participated in this celebration of life. To be called to remember how precious life is – how important friends and family are – how important doing what we love is – how quickly things can change – and how much there is to celebrate!
There were a few songs that were sung by individuals and our local women’s chorus, lovely songs full of soul and shine. The last song offered was:
I Still Have Joy
I still have joy, I still have joy
After all the things I’ve been through
I still have joy
My thoughts are with those who will feel the void of her absence. May she be forever free and singing in the breeze that caresses our majestic mountains, carrying the wings of birds higher and higher still.
“You don’t get to choose how you’re to die or when,
you can only decide how you’re going to live now.”
– Joan Baez