Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Arrangement Conference

As I was ordering lunch at a local fast food restaurant, my cell phone rang.  I stepped to the side and answered the call.  It was my three o’clock appointment.  He said that he had come by early and was sitting in front of my funeral home with his mother.  I canceled my order and returned to my office.
As I parked my car, I saw his mother first.  She was a beautiful woman, tall with striking silver hair.  She was dressed in purple, and it suited her.  As we greeted, I looked deep into her eyes, from the depth of her soul, she radiated gentleness and kindheartedness. 

Her son was exiting their car.  As I turned my attention toward him, I noticed that although he was young, his movements were measured with caution.  As he rose, I could see that he, as his mother, stood tall.  He matched her beauty, both inwardly and outwardly.  He was remarkably handsome and radiated a tranquility one does not often witness in young adult men.

They were both friendly, and I invited them into my funeral home.  As we walked the first twenty feet or so, I could see the young man’s strength waiver.  He immediately sought out a couch and sat down.  His mother and I spoke for another few moments, and then I invited them into my arrangement room.  I immediately offered each of them a General Price Sheet and began narrowing their needs.

The handsome young man asked about various funeral options, and as he began to make choices, a tear or two would spill out of the corner of his eye.  He would immediately brush it away, perhaps pause for a moment, regain his composure and continue with his arrangements.  For a brief moment, he excused himself from the room.  I could hear him in the hallway.  He was very ill.  I was overcome with respect and love for this young man and his mother.  I looked at her.  She sat there silent and still, listening to her son, as he struggled to catch his breath and regain his strength.  I could see the worry and fear in her countenance.  A tear or two spilled out of the corner of her eye as she struggled to maintain her composure.  Her eyes met mine; they were wide and fearful.  She excused herself and went into the hall to shore up her son. 
As I listened to her encourage him, she emptied her heart with tenderness.  Her expressions were the deepest love of a mother, witnessing the premature and painful death of her young adult child.  I was overwhelmed with heartache for them.  The reverence and pain of the moment was a heavy burden to witness.

I do not know what disease he suffers, only that it will take his life in the near future.  A handsome young man in the prime of his life is losing his life, before his loving mother’s eyes.  For those few brief moments that I shared with them, I witnessed the unconditional love and excruciating heartache of a mother for her dying child.  I could see in her eyes, and witness in her soul, that she would take his burden and trade his suffering for her health.  If it were possible, she would gladly die in his place.

We completed his arrangements.  He wanted it all written down and signed.  His final act of strength was to lift this burden from his mother on the day she will suffer the most tremendous heartache known to mothers, the day of her beloved son’s death, his death.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 

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