Farewell to Emma

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By the time you read this, the funeral will be over. We will have buried Emma and dispersed to our separate homes. Some of those homes are more than a thousand miles away.

A week ago we got the call: “Emma is dead.” At first, you deny it, don’t believe it. And then you realize that there is this hole in your life that you will live with forever.

That’s personal. I’m writing this blog post because I think there’s a larger lesson here. I didn’t include Emma’s last name because she wasn’t “special” in a way that matters to the world at large. I know that if I did, you would try to find out more about her on the web.

There’s nothing there. You might find someone with the same name on Google, but you won’t find the woman whose life we celebrated today.

You won’t find an article about her in the paper. No commentator will write about her death. It wasn’t “newsworthy.” But hundreds of people travelled to a small church in rural South Carolina because Emma cared about them.

“Cared” wasn’t a feeling, it was action. Caring was preparing a meal, straightening things up, listening to a story for the one hundredth time. Caring was pitching in for a fund raiser, hugging someone who needed it, making sure the church or the house or whatever was clean. Caring was checking to see if another person was doing OK.

Emma wasn’t the sort of person that the world thinks is worth attention. That didn’t matter. We all showed up to bid her farewell because we loved her. And we loved her because she loved us.

My father used to say that you’re alive as long as they tell stories about you. We’ll be telling Emma stories for a quite a while. There will be the ones that make us laugh, like the ones about her hats. But every story will have love at the core.

The world may not think that’s worth celebrating. But I do.

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