My parents were the glue that kept our extended family together. With children and grandchildren scattered across the country in 8 different states, it’s always been a special occasion when we’re all together.
This past weekend I spent time in Pennsylvania to attend a memorial service for my father who passed away a few weeks ago. Joined by my four siblings, our children and grandchildren, we sat together under a canopy at the gravesite where my father’s ashes were to be interred, alongside our mother who passed away less than a year ago.
As part of a beautiful service, we held candles and passed the light from the main candle by my parents’ photo, throughout the canopy, until all of the candles were lit.
As we shared gratitude for these two amazing people, our candles dripped along with our tears.
As the winds of life blew through the canopy, one candle after the next would blow out temporarily, only to be relit by a flame from another candle. At some point during the service each one of us lost our individual flame, only to be relit and supported by another family member. There was never a time when all of the flames were unlit. Someone always carried the light when the others blew out.
I found it such a tangible reminder that we are not alone. I was concerned that our family would fall apart without the glue of my parents, but what came forth, was something so beautiful and such a gift to all of us. I realized that we were each given a part of the light that was once cared for by our parents.
Just as with the candles, no matter what the winds may blow our way, the light that my parents imparted to each of us is there for us to share with each another and to relight one another when we’re in need.
It was as if God was sending me a very personal message…. That I’m not alone. I know the flame from our parents’ candle is spread far and wide, so much so that it can never go out, for it will always burn brightly within one of us.
Whether we’re fortunate to have many siblings and extended family, or whether we create our own “family” of friends, it’s nice to know that there will always be someone, somewhere who can light our candle when we need it.
In the midst of the sorrow, I’m blessed by the support of a loving family, friends and this beautiful community. Thank you for your expressions of sympathy. From my heart to yours, know that I’ll be here carrying the flame if and when you ever need to relight your candle.
Photo Credit: Shawn Carpenter