Over the weekend I attended a wake for a relative that passed away suddenly. While I had only met her a handful of times, her wake left a lasting impact on my heart. The following is a journal entry from this past Sunday that I would like to share.
I am still hardcore in my relapse. I cannot stand the feel of my own body inside of my skin. All I feel is my fat suffocating me and the eyes of the world staring at and counting each of my visible rolls. I put on my black dress earlier that I haven’t worn since last summer to attend my relative Gerri’s wake tonight. I have never felt so uncomfortable in a dress in my life. I just wanted to crawl into a rabbit hole and not be seen. The eyes of my uncles and aunts I’m sure were sizing up my body noticing all the weight I’ve gained. Judging my every step. All of these things flooding my mind in a moment where my body shouldn’t have mattered. But somehow, it did. Ed had accompanied me to the wake.
As time went on, and we talked to the close family members of my relative, I began to feel this overwhelming, empathetic, melancholy feeling. I looked around at the grieving faces. I looked at the closed casket covered with the most beautiful yellow roses. I saw the pictures of a young, radiant, beloved, wife, mother, grandmother. I saw the smiles of happiness, and the lines of a journey well-traveled on her face in each picture. And the more my senses were engaged with my surroundings I began to think deeply and it brought me back to a meaningful conversation I had not too long ago with Maiya about snowflakes and purpose. And I thought, someday, when this is me, people aren’t going to remember how many rolls I thought I had on my body; they aren’t going to remember how much food I didn’t eat or did eat. No one will remember how many hours I spent in the gym or my weight on the scale or the size of my dress. What they will remember is all the things I can’t see when I’m stuck with Ed. They will remember (I hope) my smile, my loving heart, my free spirit, my compassion, my talents, the joy they felt around me. They will remember my strength, and how I tried to be a light of God’s love and hope. They will remember things I probably don’t even know about myself. And it brings so many tears to my eyes. My earthly body doesn’t matter because my heavenly father has given me a spirit of love, and that above all else makes my heart swell.
The parlor of Gerri’s wake was filled with yellow flowers. When I looked around, I realized something else. These flowers had a purpose. Gerri had a purpose. I have a purpose. I was not placed on this earth for decorative reasons, but to make a difference. As I continue to struggle with finding my footing in a strong place of recovery again, I am going to try to remember all these things. Although I did not know her well, her wake left a lasting imprint on my life. And now, whenever I see a yellow flower, just as when I see snowflakes, I will smile because I will know I have a purpose too.