This morning I attended a memorial service for the father-in-law of a very dear friend. The death came quickly and unexpetedly this weekend following a Havan (a Hindu purifying ritual) and birthday celebration for my friends' daughter who turns one tomorrow. The Havan was held in the home of my friend's in-laws and when we arrived on Saturday, her father-in-law welcomed us warmly at the door and gathered our coats and soaking umbrellas and directed us toward the garage to store our shoes. He was vibrant and happy and so full of life. He seemed very proud to be hosting a celebration in honor of his granddaughter and urged us to eat and drink. On Saturday the house was full of friends and family who braved a cold and rainy day to travel to Long Island. He passed the next day. It was remarked several times this morning what a blessing it was to have so many loved ones surrounding him just before he went.
Throughout the service this morning, that was primiarly in Hindi, my mind drifted to my own loved ones - the ones I have lost and the ones I have nearly lost. Earlier this year, I lost my paternal grandmother and I have a very lengthy post reflecting on her memory that I will one day finish and share. Fifteen years ago yesterday, I nearly lost my own father when I was only 19 which means this is always a week when I place another mile marker in extra time I have enjoyed with my dad. Just two years ago, he tried to leave us again. A couple of times. So attending a memorial service for the loss of a friend's father feels personal. Both at my grandmother's funeral in March and the service today, I could not stop my mind from wandering to the line of thinking of what if it was my dad? I think my friend's husband's eloquent remarks about his father especially touched my heart when he said something to the effect of how grateful he is for the memories of his father others have shared with him because they help fill the gaps when he wasn't with him.
At the end of the service, I sent both of my parents a quick text that simply read "I love you." My dad replied "What a pleasant surprise msg. I love you, too." and I am now looking forward more than ever to my parents' visit two weeks from tomorrow.
There is one more thing I would like to mention that swished around in my brain as the pundit chanted about the soul and reincarnation (as explained by a friend who understood some of the ceremony): the after-life. I have mentioned before that I have many doubts and questions about the faith I was raised with. Despite my religious upbringing, faith is not something that comes easily to my mind and heart. I do, however, believe in an after-life. I do not pretend to understand it but I have to say I feel deep in my heart that my grandmother was reunited with my grandfather 21 years after his death and I pray that my friend, her husband and his family can find a similar solace and peace with this unexpected death and continue to celebrate the life of a man who, from all accounts, was generous and loving.