Deep cleaning my room today uncovered many things I had either thought lost, had forgotten about or didn’t know ever existed. One the things I “found” again was the eulogy I wrote for my mother’s funeral. It was two pages of yellowing paper instantly recognizable as something written and printed with 90s technology.
I read over the words I wrote 14 years ago, when I was 18. I could see myself sitting at my computer in our kitchen (the one my mother and grandmother was so proud to have gotten me, used, for homework. It didn’t have internet.) and writing this the night before the funeral. I sat there until the words simply flowed out of me. That’s how I write. That’s how I know something is ready to be put down on paper.
When I delivered it in the church the next day, It was hard to get through certain parts without crying. Maintaining my composure was very important to me then (and now). Looking out into the assembled group of my family, friends and family friends, I could see my words having a powerful affect on people. Crying, yes, but also nodding and quite a few “amen”s and “yes, lord”s. Having gone from a Christian to an agnostic Unitarian Universalist between then and now, much of the un-changed parts of my faith and view on life are evident in the words I wrote.
So here it is. A eulogy for Paula Terrell.* Daughter, sister, mother, sci-fi enthusiast. Sunrise: September 22, 1956. Sunset: October 24, 1999.
Most of you knew my mother as a caring person who was always worrying about others and putting them before herself. Well, that’s true. She was almost entirely selfless in her actions. She loved helping others and having fun. She had a contagious sense of humor. When she started laughing at something you could not help but laugh as well. Whether it was reminiscing about a childhood memory or a funny storyline on TV, it was usually very amusing. We had fun critiquing sci-fi and fantasy so much that she always told me that she wanted to live among the stars in the future, exploring new worlds and seeking adventure. Well, she is living among the stars now, exploring a new world and having the ultimate adventure. I would say her dream has come true.
Her and I, we had our fights and arguments and so forth, but we knew each other pretty well. It’s ironic that just when we were starting to cross the bridge into understanding each other, we would be separated before we could meet in the middle. Some people say that to die so young is to live a wasted life. But I know that that’s not true. I freely admit that I do not always understand God’s motives, but I do believe that each of us is here to serve a purpose. And whether we die at twenty or a hundred, it’s okay as long as we have fulfilled our destiny. It may not seem fair to us left behind, but we can console ourselves with the knowledge that we will understand later.
She has fulfilled her purpose. In her suffering, she taught us to appreciate life; and in her death, she teaches us to live not for tomorrow but for today. God has now called her home. She no longer has to suffer in this world. To us her death may seem like a tragedy, but her life was our gift from God. And for that we should be grateful.
*The only changes to this from the original were to correct or add punctuation. No text was changed. Paragraph breaks were kept in original places.