Dear Lord, God, Almighty
We stand together here to honour our loved one.
Who is now in your loving care.
We have come together today not only to grieve the loss of Martha.
but also to give thanks to you for the long and fruitful life you gave her.
We have come together today – not only to mourn over how difficult our lives will be without her but to give thanks to you for how wonderful life was when she was with us.
We have come together today – not only to understand that life is short and uncertain on this earth but to give thanks to you for the valuable gift of life itself and for the gift of family and friendships.
Lord, we seek your mercy in order to comfort our aching hearts with a hope to fill the void left behind by Martha and ask for your blessings and forgiveness for our sins.
May her soul rest in peace.
I ask this in Jesus’ name,
A strong drizzle started to penetrate from between the canopies of black umbrellas much like the tears that were withheld for a long time and then suddenly came pouring out at the sight of the casket being lowered down and down into the ground. The wet soil was now an amalgamation of rainwater, flowers, and tears.
Seeing her slowly going down, churned my heart with gruesome sorrow and made me cry out her name in agony. I found myself begging them to stop for a while, It was the last, that I would be seeing of her.
“Martha……. don’t go Martha…Don’t leave me and go.
Wait don’t put her in, not so soon, wait…” I pleaded.
In my heart of hearts, I knew I wasn’t ready to let her go and I wouldn’t ever be ready to let her go. She had fought so bravely all this while, things can’t end in a blink of an eye, No, not now and especially not after all this struggle!
Hoping against hope that she would awaken from her deep slumber and call out my name. I stood watching her and feeling cheated by God, if only I could go back in time and unsay those words, cursing the vows we had taken some forty-eight years ago in the same church campus, I recited them under my breath
“Until Death Do Us Part” Yes, those were the exact words “Until Death Do Us Part!!!!”
I yelped “Lord forgive me I lied, forgive me. Please give me back my Martha, I don’t want to part with her” But Martha was gone and what was left behind, was just her body, knowing fully well that the soul leaves the body at the time of death.
But what if she was still alive and trapped in a comma? was a question that kept pricking me, my heart and mind were playing games and I was inconsolable, much like a child.
“let her go Joe, we can’t disrespect the body, it’s already beginning to smell a bit.” someone whispered over my shoulder.
Sympathizing with me, they paused for a moment and again, continued lowering the coffin, as they had no other option, the wet mud had started to cave in with the continuous rain and they knew the funeral ceremony had to be hurried with.
Someone held my hand and gave me gentle tug to the side after a concerned voice from among the crowd cautioned, to keep me away from the grave.
“Hold him carefully the mud is wet, poor fella lost his wife and now may end up losing his balance and hurting himself badly, it’s very slippery there.”
It was our family grave. My father, mother and probably their parents too, all lay there to rest. I wouldn’t mind joining Martha for a family reunion once again.
Despite the ill weather, more than half of the town was there to pay their respects to Martha some genuine and some just for the hang of it.
Along with the raindrops, sharp whispers started to escalate among a few masquerades dressed in black, the colour of lament. But far from mourning they were there just to complete the obligatory ritual of attending every funeral ceremony in town, with the sole motive of showing their faces.
Habitually gossipping and grunting and sobbing were nothing new to them.
Martha had a special phrase for women like this, she tactfully described them as ‘social termites’ “four horses can’t overtake their tongues and ill ways” she would teasingly add. Martha had a knack of saying what she wanted to, in a very forceful yet witty way, which I awfully lacked.
What seemed like a never-ending nightmare was almost over, though I terribly suffered from its hangover, finding it hard to come to terms with the reality of life and death. The commemoration ceremony was almost over and dusk had set in now, changing day to night, for the world it was just a part of the day-night, night-day cycle but for me, it was going to be an era of loneliness, a long painful night before dawn with a darkness that would last a lifetime. The sun was never gonna rise again on my horizon. Martha had left behind a void in my heart, that no one could ever fill.
(To be continued)
© Annadine Charles