Everything has beauty in it… even the darker parts of life.

Recently, I lost my dad. I wrote a bit about that here. There are several moments over the course of the weeks that preceded and followed Dad’s death that will stick with me forever, but there is one in particular that I want to focus on.

Death is such a mixed bag. There’s the grief and the darkness of it, but there are also these quiet moments of clarity and community that really bring the whole notion of our shared humanity full circle. Like most things in life, there are both darkness and light mixed in.

The day that we buried Dad, the service was very small. It was mostly family and just a few people that were close to my parents. One of the men attending was a friend of my dad’s in the later years of his life. I had attended high school with him. I never knew him back then. He was younger than me and I’m sad to say now that in my self-absorbed, teenaged way, I didn’t even notice him. Dad was a member of the Lions Club. As the years went by, I saw a fair amount of this man and his parents as they worked together with my parents on various community service projects.

After high school, I moved far away from my hometown. Even though I came back to visit as much as I could over the years, I was really only around for a few days here and there and only a few times a year. This man and his family, the people of the community, are the people that have been important to my parents in their later years. These are the people that looked out for them and have given them a sense of belonging as their grown children have been far away making their way in the world.

This man’s father manages the cemetery where Dad is resting now. He helped my brother pick out the cemetery plot and arrange the details after Dad passed. On the day of the burial, I watched the quiet, unassuming man, the person I never took notice of in my teenage years, lower my dad’s urn into the ground.

I wish I could convey how that moment impacted me. The simplicity and kindness of it was overwhelming. I was taken by the unassuming nobility and importance of these men in that moment. Here were people quietly and simply taking care of another. Here was one person, part of my parents’ community, gently lowering my father into his final resting place as the rest of my family looked on. It was so simple, but so profound.

We put so much emphasis on so many of the wrong things. We worry about how we look. We fret about what we’re accomplishing. We are self-absorbed and focused on being entertained and “important”.

In that small moment I saw so clearly what IS important.

We are all headed to the same place. Along the way it’s important to remind people that it’s not about what you wear, or how fit you are, or how white your teeth are or how cool your Instagram feed is that defines your importance. It’s how you treat people and how you take care of each other and how you make the people around you feel.

So focus. Focus on on what’s really important and maybe someday someone will afford you the simple, profound honor that this man afforded my father.

I can’t think of much that is more important than that.

© 2018 Krysta Bernhardt. All Rights Reserved.