light in the darkness

Sometimes we expect the death of a loved one such as in the case of someone who has been under hospice care. At other times death comes unexpectedly from nowhere. The person was here one moment and then BOOM! like a flash of lightning, they’re gone.

My friend Cindy Goff of Dreamspeed Photography experienced just that BOOM! this summer. Her friend Ron Thomas died suddenly and left friends and family reeling in shock. Ron was a consummate musician with a larger-than-life personality. Ron’s family chose to follow the old Appalachian custom of having the deceased’s body in a casket laid out at home for visitation. Her account of the event, in the form of a letter to Ron, was so touching that I asked her permission to share it with my readers. I hope her words will fill your hearts and remind you of the overwhelming power of love even after death.

Here, in part, is the letter Cindy wrote to Ron:

I was always afraid of open caskets. But I learned the old Appalachian way of bringing someone home is best. Ironically, it allows the mind time to let go of the physical. At first, it was shocking, and I had to flee the house, couldn’t breathe. However, as more people came to see you, I eased into looking, and the more I looked, the more at home I became. I was comforted by your body being there. I know you weren’t tied to it anymore, but my mind had to accept it. So many people stayed deep into the night with you. I sat by you, rested my arm on the side of the casket, and as the circle of us laughed and talked into the night, my hand was resting on your shoulder. You were wearing the brightest tie-dye shirt ever known to man, a bandana, your head and arms surrounded by flowers, your guitar standing at one end of the coffin, and your guitar case covered with stickers tucked under the casket. I know you would have loved it.

I’ve always believed in reincarnation but in your case, I don’t want to believe it. I know that’s selfish, but I want to think I’ll see you again. I want you to be the first voice I hear when I cross over. You guiding me, “It’s ok. Just stop breathing. Come on. You’ll hear some crazy angel voices. But it’s ok. They’ll stop soon, and we can put on Zeppelin III.”

I’m positive you had no idea what a giant light you shone on this world. But the thing is when that light goes out, it’s blacker than you could ever imagine. I felt swallowed up with blackness…until your funeral. And saw all the people that soaked up your glow. We are all reflections of you. Beaming back to each other now, warming ourselves from the light you started. Your funeral was full of stars, your stars. You did that. The world didn’t seem as dark.

I will love you forever my brother, my friend, my kindred spirit, my comrade, my confidante, the light that will always warm me. ~~ Cindy