I was with Allan when he planned his own funeral. When I go into the next world, my wishes are for no money to be spent on my passing. After all, I will be dead and gone and that which is left will only be the body, already starting to decay. Allan had different beliefs and wanted a lovely funeral at the Ukrainian Orthodox church, with a wooden casket and a pretty fresh flower spray, and a luncheon afterwards. He was able to orchestrate his passing quite nicely. In the Orthodox church, the mummified body is open for viewing during the service and friends and family are permitted to kiss or touch or hug the resting soul one last time. I know that sounds absolutely morbid, but I grew up in the Ukrainian Orthodox way and attended so many funerals as a child. Children do not have to kiss the body or the cross, not until they are around 10 or so, anyhow. But by then, death holds no shame, no stigma and no fear. I feel it is a healthy way to say so long to those we knew and loved.
But, this morning, my dear cousin, my father's nephew from his oldest sister, passed away. Anton was only 9 or so years younger than my father, because in those days families were large and the first born daughter and the mother were often giving birth at the same time. There were 8 in my father's family. Women married young, so Auntie Annie was married and with child when Grandma Wosnack had recently had Peter.
Anton and my father, who was my real world hero, were much closer than brothers. They shared their hearts with one another and faced sorrows and joys and tribulations and successes together. When the Cat road construction company was disbanded in 1969, and we moved to Vancouver, my father missed Anton more than he thought he ever could, and they called one another and talked every few days and drove back and forth from Alberta to BC to be together. My mother and Anton's wife, Ann, respected one another, but did not match that undying loyalty and friendship Anton and my father had.
I also lost an Icelandic ram that I loved very much in the past week in the thunderstorm, where I believe he was standing too close to the fence and was struck by lightning when it traveled through the wire fence. Gunnar's skull was all that was left, without a shred of meat of sinew. There were three bare rib bones and some very charred wool in the burned out patch where Gunnar met his demise. I hoped to find him alive and had been hunting for him, but never did I expect to find just his charred remains. Sweet Gunnar, now gone.
What happens to our hearts when we lose those we love? Of course, they break. Tears flow freely and the weight of the sorrow and loss sits heavy on our shoulders. Those who are dear to us, be they human or animal, are those we do not want to see gone. Instead, we want to do all we can to ensure we have these souls around us, because we love them so. It is not selfish, I do not think, to cling to their lives with every last fibre of our being, until the last breath is taken and even then, we do not want to let go. When my father passed away, I was by his side and I was holding his hand. He gave my hand one last squeeze and inhaled deeply and then he was gone, but I did not let go. I could not.
With each life that touches our own, be it for a short while or a very, very long time, a piece of our souls remain together with the deceased. I will miss Allan. I will think of him and find him gone too soon. I will miss Anton, too. For he was special to me and the last tie to the Wosnack Brothers (plus Anton, the nephew). None are left now.
Time does not wait. Time does not slow down, nor does it move too quickly. When the end comes, it is final. All that remains are the memories, and how thankful I am for those. In the cold of the winter evening, I am sure I will be sitting by the wood fire, contemplating life and remembering those I have loved whom are no more on this plane. Yet, in my heart, there will be warmth and in my spirit, there will be fondness, for the singular times I have shared in my life with those too soon departed.
Good bye Allan.
Good bye Anton.
Good bye Gunnar.
May you all be in a place of love, light and joy.