I knew when I woke on Wednesday that there was going to be a heaviness to the day, funerals tend to have that affect. If I’m being honest, it’s not the funeral itself that gets me, rather it’s the weight of the emotions of everyone gathered… or so I thought. When Lewis passed away a couple of months back, I swore to myself after having attended his virtual services, that I would never do that again. There had been an unparalleled level of isolation, sitting alone with nothing but my computer screen and all of my feelings. There was no comfort in knowing and seeing others mourn along side me, no sharing of the collective weight, no hugs, no real feeling of closure and an intense sense of loneliness. As is usually the case when I make a declaration, the Universe sought to challenge me.
Mr Joe O’Connor passed away peacefully in his home on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 after a long battle with failing health. To say he was one of my favorites would be a vast understatement. Mr Joe always met me with a smile, a little wave and that mischievous twinkle in his eyes that only a true Irishman can have. We knew his time was drawing near, and he’d held on longer than many of us expected. Still, the knowledge doesn’t ease the pain when the time actually comes. That night the sky was crystal clear and I had stood out looking at the stars before receiving word, marveling at what a beautiful night it was for mid-January in Colorado.
Wednesday morning, armed with the knowledge that I was going to be participating in his send off via computer, despite my promise of “never again” to myself, I looked for shiny things to maintain a balance. The snow gently covered the hills at work, wrapping them in a hug that only nature could provide. There was a peace and serenity felt as I saw the glow on the horizon, as a new day dawned. I found comfort in knowing that while I may not be able to tangibly feel it, I was going to be held and comforted.
About quarter after eleven, I said a little prayer and lit a candle. I placed it near a couple of pictures I had printed of Mr Joe and his leading ladies: his wife of almost 44 years Ginny, and his caretaker (my friend) Missy. Noon o’clock rolled around and the service started. It had been planned out my Mr Joe, and it very much had his feel, even in the little details. It was beautiful, and every bit as isolating as Lewis’s services. Missy was the final speaker, and as expected, she made me both laugh and cry.
It was just after one, with tears rolling down my face, that the livestream ended. I can’t be the only one who gives themselves pep-talks. “Okay Sam, breathe. You need to go blow your nose, wash your face and pull yourself together. 2 hours… 120 minutes, then you can go home and cry all you need.” So, I took my advice. After all, crying at work is generally frowned upon.
As I was walking out of the restroom, I recognized the truck pulling in. I was a little perplexed as they were a day early, but also incredibly relieved because the individuals in that truck always brighten my days. With eyes still red and puffy from crying, I headed out to greet them. Our usual banter flowed effortlessly, and I had moved to stand along side the truck in typical form. Without giving it much thought, the driver pulled the lever to activate his wipers and fluid because the snow from the morning had been melting and there was splash back coating the windshield. As he pulled the lever, the fluid sprayed both his truck and me.
I was immediately pulled out of my sadness and stood there for half a second in shock. Cold fluid to the face on a chilly January day is definitely one way to get grounded in the present moment. I waved at the fluid in an attempt to get it to stop and started laughing as I looked in the truck. The driver asked if he’d sprayed me, looking equal parts amused and concerned; the passenger was already bent over in laughter. Jokingly, I said “I thought you guys liked me!” and the driver responded with “We do! We were just… showering you with love!”
Now I don’t know about you, but sometimes the Universe sends me signs and signals that are easy to ignore or explain away; and sometimes they are big, shiny things wrapped up in a proverbial bow. I also know that our minds are meaning making machines, but this moment just seems magical- even almost a week later.
In an instant, I went from sad panda status to genuinely laughing and joking. I was fully present in the moment, with these two amazing humans, and I was grateful for the connection. To have their explanation be that I was being showered with love, when hours before I had written about how I wasn’t going to be able to tangibly feel comfort and support, seems more than ironic. All I could do was smile and laugh in gratitude, as I looked at the guys in the truck, and realized my support had arrived- a cavalry of caring in an F250.
I know the logical reason for them coming in a day earlier than normal was due to weather and the specific demands of other projects they had going on. On an intellectual level, I completely understand. Yet, on the emotional and spiritual side, I can’t discount them being there when I needed them.
That moment, as innocent and inadvertent as it was, changed the course of my day and the rest of my week. Sometimes support comes in unlikely was or from unexpected places. The truth is, you never really know what others are going through. Your brief moment of kindness or levity could be exactly what they need, like a spray of windshield wiper fluid to the face. Please never doubt the affect you can have on others and the ripples that your actions can cause.
With gratitude and a chuckle,