Last Wednesday I left our morning drop-in to go home because I felt awful. I got home around 12:30 pm, crawled into bed and slept until 4:30 pm. I hardly ever sleep during the day like that. I continued to doze into the evening, slept all night and remained in bed throughout the next day. I don’t know what I had. A cold, or maybe a touch of a flu? If I’m honest, I know that mixed into the sickness was stress. The combination meant my body had no other option but to stop and rest.

Just days before I fell ill I received the call that a friend, fellow musician and core member of The Dale had taken his own life. In disbelief I called the police, longing to hear it was a mistake. It wasn’t. This news arrived on the heels of officiating two funerals already this year. Since last summer we have said goodbye to Cowboy, Rob, Leonard, Barry, Jackie, Will and now Clive. All of this death means that one grief seems to bleed into another, rarely with enough space between to come up for air.

A few people have recently asked me if in order to manage these losses I keep a safe distance away- I guess sort of clinically detached. I am actually quite the opposite, deeply weeping and mourning for all of my friends. I feel determined to honour each one with dignity and respect, so much so that I, along with Joanna, have taken responsibility for people with no next of kin. I don’t want to be hardened to all of this. I recognize too that in order to stay healthy I must create space to process, grieve and rest.

Besides a lot of sleeping last week, I took time to pray, watch funny television and drink cup after cup of tea with honey. I endeavoured to sit in gratitude for a bed and quiet home to recover in. It wasn’t all picturesque: I ugly cried and wrestled with God too. As I began to come out the other side, I was able to give thanks for how God continues to walk with me in these valleys. These deaths, simply put, suck. There is also something deeply beautiful about being there with people at the end of their lives AND with those left behind.

As we plan this next funeral, we are thinking about the small repertoire of songs that our friend played regularly in the corner of the drop-in. One of them was Green Day’s “Time of Your Life”. It has been stuck in my head for days and seems a good, though maybe tragically ironic way to end this post. 

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time

It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos and memories and dead skin on trial
For what it’s worth it was worth all the while

It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.