Today I attended the funeral of a woman I had never met. She was a coworker’s mother at 9am this morning, but by time the funeral had passed at 11:30am, I came to realize that she, Mary, was so much more.
It feels odd to to sit in a church you’ve never been to and cry at the world’s loss of someone you didn’t know. It feels odd like laughing at a joke you overheard in a small room. It feels odd like making eye contact with a passing stranger. It feels odd like when your hand accidentally touches someone next to you in a crowded space and you’re suddenly reminded that the world exists so much further beyond your own gaze… so much deeper than your own thoughts and feelings… so much more than the span of your own existence… and in a certain sense, none of it feels odd at all.
I’m not much of a crier. I’ve had a lot of practice in hiding my emotions and pretending to be strong, but I am not ashamed to admit that my eyes were a leaking faucet when Mary’s husband gave a eulogy. The way he attested to the beauty, character and grace of Mary was absolutely stirring. He quoted a movie, saying:
There are only four questions of value in life. What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same: only love.
Today, through the life and death of someone I didn’t know directly, I was reminded of what it means to be human. To be finite and contingent, and the make the best of it and fight for love to the bitter end.
I was also reminded about the importance of story telling. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of photographers being historians, curators of moments captured. I am more confident today that the pursuit of photography is a good and right path to take as my desire to be a visual historian grows, as my love for others grows, and as I learn more about spreading stories worth telling.