There are notes for several requiems in my Granddad’s book of sermons, and one Latin phrase occurs in each:
lux perpetua lucebit vobis
In English, the phrase means may perpetual light shine upon you. This week we want that light to shine on three friends – Wendy, Steve and Ron – all taken from us far too soon, one so very suddenly, and on their families who are in such pain right now.
For the families and friends of Wendy and Ron, the act of marking time in the years, months and days before death was nearly as sad and haunting as the inevitable passing because of the merciless malevolence of stage four cancer.
“On the death of a friend,
we should consider that the fates through confidence
have devolved on us the task of a double living,
that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend’s life also,
in our own, to the world.”
[Henry David Thoreau]
Our burden, in fulfilling the promise of these three friends’ lives will be enormous. Our friends, variously, personified love, friendship, caring, humour, athleticism, exuberance and creativity. But before fulfilling, we will mourn and remember…
Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance
Modern society seems to need rules for how we ought to mourn, hence these stages of grieving, tidily tied into five neat packages but, of course, grief is neither neat nor tidy. It’s hugely messy! Bereavement is also a study in social polarity – our expectancy of public announcement and participation in funereal rites opposed by our expectancy that mourning be conducted in the privacy of our homes. As if this messy, emotional explosion can (or should) be contained.
Dear, sweet Wendy more than earned her blessed release after eight long and tedious years of chemo and radiation treatments. The past month had been particularly horrible yet even the knowledge that her death was imminent did not prepare me for the acute pain and sentimentality I experienced upon learning of her passing. The friends I love the most become a cherished part of me, making them all the harder to lose. They’re irreplaceable. I accept that the fates through confidence have devolved on me the task of a double living, and I will honour my beloved friend Wendy by doing my utmost to fulfill the promise of my friend’s life.
Lux perpetua lucebit vobis Wendy, Steve and Ron – may light eternal shine upon you all until we meet again.
‘Til next time, y’all…