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
Norma. My friend of 56 years just lost her battle to bile-duct cancer. She passed away in NC on August 12. Today her obituary appeared in our local newspaper making her passing real. What you are sharing today is very comforting. Unfortunately I didn’t experience what Cindy experience but these words help.
Thanks for sharing, Julie. My condolences on the loss of your good friend.
Yes, life is tentative, and none of us knows what is around the corner for us, five seconds from now!!! Always good to keep short accounts, and to be prepared, knowing that our Heavenly home has been prepared by the One and only One who can assure us of that place, if we have acknowledged Him, as Our Saviour. Was so comforted to read some of Queen Elizabeth’s remarks about her reliance on Jesus, for her strength and guidance, as she lead and governed. She was one of my all time favorite public figures, and some of her and Mother’s mannerisms, were quite similar. Mother was “Queen Rosalie”, and it will soon be 10 years since she received her “promotion” to Glory!!!
Thank you for sharing.
Norma, you were too young to remember Uncle Orbin’s son, Thomas, who died from injuries received in World War II, but he, also, was “laid out” at home. I was only 4 years old, but I remember daddy picking me up so that I could see cousin Thomas.
I can only hope that Uncle Orbin and Aunt Freelove felt the same glowing reflections of their son (at home again) that Cindy felt.
Thanks for sharing this since I did not know it.
Bev: Yes, in times past, most all of the corpses were on view at homes, before the days of funeral homes, and the side door, with no exterior stairs, was known as a coffin door, since the funeral wagon would come to that door and unload the coffin into the parlor or living room, for the remains to be viewed by family, friends, and others. Some old homes that I tour, still have that side door, seemingly leading to nowhere, and I am able to tell the others on tour, the reason for that door.