Mog and I danced at death today. We weren't expecting to. But we were privileged to attend the funeral of a most precious friend, our beautiful butterfly B, who died so suddenly whilst we were on holiday last week.
Parents are not built to accommodate the death of a child. It's not supposed to happen. When you hold your previous baby, the hopes and dreams you have for them are more likely to include weddings, graduations, first steps and flying kites and endless enchanting chatter. We might imagine we hold in our hands a little mini-me, created to avoid all the mistakes we made ourselves. Or perhaps we're more realistic, and we hold our breath in wonder, wonder at the beauty of this new life; and aim to give them the world, to allow them to seize whatever opportunities may come along.
We don't generally imagine we will outlive them; that one day we will hold them too silent and still, and make unthinkable decisions about the very last services we can offer them.
Some of us have children with disabilities, with complex medical needs, with uncertain lives. And then we do have to think the unthinkable, and for some of us there's an element of comfort in thinking through some of the worst things that might happen; not comfort in thinking bout them, but comfort in knowing or at least thinking we know what decisions we might make about certain things towards the end of life.
And Beautiful Butterfly B did have profound disabilities. But she was healthy, not frail, and her death was not expected, not anticipated. There was no lengthy illness, no gradual decline, none of the warning signs we may have seen in our children or in others, preparing the way for us. She was just here. And then she wasn't.
And in a few short days - although I'm sure they will have seemed unbearably long at times - B's family created a beautiful, beautiful service of thanksgiving. A service which managed to capture the grief and loss, the shock and the pain we all feel. Which poured out the love B had always inspired, into her casket and back out to the congregation. And which was able to celebrate, truly celebrate, the new body B now has, the wholeness and perfection she has in her new room in our Father's house, and the joy that she has her new Dancing Partner, our Lord Jesus Christ.
And so we mourned our loss, and especially her family's loss. But we also celebrated her Homecoming; and as Mog heard this song her happiness and excitement spread in a wide face-splitting smile. And so we danced, Mog and I, in anticipation of that beautiful day to come, when we will all dance together, with the true Lord of the Dance leading us on.