We have all been there. We have all found ourselves at a funeral of someone that was less than amazing. 

Years ago, I went to support a co-worker by attending the funeral of her ex-husband and what followed were two of the more uncomfortable hours of my life. The gentleman being remembered had abandoned his wife, his four children, and his friends and replaced all the gifts in his life for drugs, and alcohol. The influence of all those substances left the man angry, violent and dishonest. 

Still, his family gathered to say goodbye.

When the moment in the service arrived for loved ones to approach the microphone and express their love and memories of the deceased, no one moved. For 15 minutes we sat in silence. Even with the urging of the pastor, no one stood up to speak.  It was so uncomfortable I was tempted to make up a memory of a man I had never met just to stop the screaming silence.  Finally, a man walked to the microphone, and said, ” I remember Jack (the deceased) really liked butter on his popcorn when he went to the movie theatre.”

I am not making this up.

I left that service with a new passion to live my life for the sake of my funeral. I want my children to be able to  say, “She was loving, warm and I knew she loved me deeply.” I want my husband to smile when he thinks of me. I hope my friends feel loved, protected and have memories where we laughed ‘till we cried. I try every day to be an example to the young ones, and a comfort to the older ones in my life. I would hate to live my life in a way that when the end does come, no one has anything good to say.

This Saturday the Black family will gather to say goodbye to a wonderful woman, my mother-in-law, Judith Mae Black. When we do, no one will be searching to make up kind words about her, and there will be no awkward silence. I think we are actually going to have a hard time keeping the service at a reasonable length.  

Judy Black was a faithful wife to Dwayne for 58 years, a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. She was also one of my dearest friends. We laughed together, prayed together, and she taught me what it means to be a kind, graceful and strong woman. She started everyday by praying for every single one of us by name, well over 30 people on her list. She never gossiped, and she never complained. She just loved, and loved some more.  She had hope for the hopeless, and only kind words for the people that had hurt her, betrayed her and even abused her.  

She was an angel.

Our family is relieved that her physical suffering has come to an end as it was a brutal and cruel disease that plagued her. Yet she remained sweet and positively beautiful in every way until the very end.

She will be missed. We will all struggle to find our way through the rest of our lives on this earth without the one person that loved us completely, unconditionally.

I am not worthy to carry her mantle, but I sure am going to try.

We miss you already, Mom. Thank you for gracing us with your presence.

Yours was truly a life well lived.