When it comes down to it, the vicar said that the crucial thing to hold on to was hope. God gives us hope.
Now, there were lots of people paying their respects to a woman who had lived a decent life, been a devout believer, and conducted her time accordingly. No excess. No preaching. Only librarianship, encouraging youngsters to borrow from the library and read. I watched her young grandchild, about thirteen years of age, dissolve in a shudder of tears; tears that would not leave him during the entire service.
Then there was the husband, he too living a life that was blameless, Parkinson’s disease had set about him some years back, making him dependent on his wife. He sat there, bent and broken from the two agonies that had been inflicted upon him. And there was the vicar, a nice chap who knew the family well, and he mentioned hope. Hope was what God gives us. Who am I to argue?
The day was one from the Indian Summer playbook. An early chill had been chased away by warmer air, that was made all the more agreable by the shining of a fulsome sun. On this day, all could have been well with the world. People die. They live and they die. Call it passing on or passing away, but it all means the same; one day they are no more. I was an observer.
Although having lived next to the couple for going on ten years, ours was a ‘hello’ ‘how are you’ type of relationship. Neighbours can be relative strangers in this world. So, as the vicar spoke through his eulogy, I sat back and began to learn a few things about this now deceased lady who had been my neighbour. All the while I was watching her grandson’s shoulders buckle beneath his newly found grief whilst her husband devotedly sat in his wheelchair lost the type of pain I wish never to experience. And the congregation, many fellow Christians, sang the hymns and spoke the prayers in a fashion that was nothing short of inspiring. They had hope.
I walked away from the service and back into the light of the autumnal day. Away from the chapel, the daily life of others went about its business. I have gone past the need to look for meaning and none struck me. All that I saw was the ordinary flow of life that needed to fulfil ordinary tasks whilst balancing those against whatever dreams and hopes they had left.
And, maybe that is HOPE.
It could be the very fact that we carry on in the face of a certainty that we choose to ignore whilst working towards something better.