Wednesday, August 1, 2012

beautifully overwhelmed


today was full of unexpected moments that left me emotionally overwhelmed. i left the house early for a doctor's appointment. i was on my own. i had showered, dried my hair, and wore a dress. i know...do i really need to go on further? i'm almost emotionally overwhelmed just reading those last sentences. 


my appointment was over in five minutes. literally. i spent five minutes at the doctor and then had two hours to kill. again, i'm almost crying with pure joy just reliving that. as my good fortune would have it, a friend of mine delivered a beautiful baby girl two days ago so i took my opportunity and got to hold a five pound little miracle before she left the hospital. there's a song that says, "you're so fresh from heaven there's still angel dust on you." that's what it felt like to hold her. i was enraptured with her and the gift of a new little life to love. 


i left the hospital still basking in the glow of this precious life and headed about 20 minutes down the highway to attend a funeral. can you feel the emotional whiplash? you would think that the two events wouldn't join well together, in a day or in a blog post, but you might be surprised. the funeral was a celebration of an amazing man, married to the same woman for 51 years. he raised his children, saw his grandchildren grow up. he left a legacy of love and faith for his family behind him. his heritage was beautiful. i left the church feeling like my whole morning had been a celebration of life, from our first breath to our last.


then things got better.


you see, i am a california girl by birth. i spent my first 25 years living in both the north bay and southern california. it is all i had known. the only funerals i have attended, with the exception of one, are california funerals. i love my home state but i have to say, in many ways, the south is extraordinary. as i left the church from my grandfather's funeral in california, no one cared. even with my lights on and a sign in my windshield, i was virtually on my own. i got lost in traffic and was late to my grandfather's gravesite service. 


this was my first southern funeral and it was something i will never forget. as we left the church, oncoming traffic completely stopped. it stopped on both sides of the road. it stopped for a good 15 minutes. those driving on the road that day just parked their cars and waited for the entire funeral procession to pass. as we continued to drive, the same thing happened, even on the busiest roads. cars pulled over, even on the opposite side of the road, and waited for us to pass. not only that, but as we drove, police cars came from wherever they were patrolling to usher us through every traffic light. the man who passed away was just a grandfather. this is the treatment that everyone is given and i found it absolutely beautiful. 


it is easy to see the glory in a brand new life. there are few who don't find newborns stunningly beautiful and precious. today, however, i was awed by the people who chose to honor the end of a life...not of someone they knew, but of a complete stranger. drivers of those pulled over cars chose to put their lives and agendas on hold for people they had never met. they chose to esteem those who were mourning and in doing so, i saw something extraordinary. just as a mother will proudly show off her brand new baby to those who see her, the mourning family was able to sit up a little higher and be proud of the man they were celebrating. they were surrounded by respect and honor as they passed those parked cars. something so small made an extremely difficult day for them a tiny bit easier. 


as always, i found myself wondering "what if?". what if this was the norm? what if we all chose to find ways to honor one another instead of finding ways to tear each other down? at the end of today, i found the beauty of a newborn, the beauty of a life well lived, and the beauty of strangers' unselfishness absolutely overwhelming.