Such a beautiful service, we murmur. The eulogy was so touching. Everyone seemed to be holding up well, considering. She looked good, peaceful, didn't she?
We wipe away our last tears and stuff the tissues in our pockets. We hug a cousin we haven't seen since his wedding ten years ago, and likely won't see again until another occasion like this. We take one last glance at the casket.
We wander to the parking lot, our throats tight and our chests heavy. Yet we're still somehow buoyed by the day's exchange of warm memories. Comforted by those who shared our loved one's life and now, our grief.
As we climb in our cars, grasping the hand of our spouse or our child or our friend, we know the reality of our loss hasn't quite hit us. We will resume our life tomorrow, as we must. And in a few days, or perhaps a few weeks, the void will surface with a jolt. It will rip a hole within us. We will suddenly miss her smile. Her phone calls. Her quick wit that left us in giggles. Her warm embrace which now leaves us with empty arms.
The grief that follows the loss of someone we love never fully disappears.
But in the best of relationships, some bits of that individual linger behind forever: what we learned from them, how they enhanced our life, who they helped us become.
We will always carry that with us. Mere mortality can never rob us of the gifts they gave us in their lifetime.
What was taken from us will be outweighed, always, by what we were able to take away from them.