Thursday, June 11, 2009

Celebration of Life

Several weeks before I gave birth to Anna, I made a cd of worship songs to listen to while in labor. And I was glad I did; it helped me to focus and brought a sense of peace - even though I was a little too preoccupied to pay attention to the songs themselves. However, right after she was born I suddenly heard one line from my favorite song, "In Christ Alone": "From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny". I remember thinking how appropriate that line was, as I had just witnessed "life's first cry." Little did I know that in just two short weeks I would also be a part of a "final breath".

Last week I was asked to photograph the funeral of my brother-in-law's (Brian) father, Harry Sr. I had met him on many occasions over the years, and had always liked his fun and energetic personality. He had been dealing with a rare cancer, but it looked like he would beat it - it was a complete shock when he passed peacefully in his sleep at the young age of 61.

Even though the funeral was obviously a sad time of mourning, it was also a time of laughter, remembrance, and great hope. Harry was a man who loved his God, and time and time again at the services I heard stories of how he would spend hours sitting in the empty church in meditation and prayer, how he taught various Bible studies over the years, and how he loved the Word of God. But the greatest testimony that Harry left behind was his family: a wife, two sons with their wives, and 17 grandchildren - all of whom love and serve the Lord. What a legacy!

Though we are all saddened by this loss, we can have hope because we know it is only temporary. At this moment, Harry is standing before the Lord worshipping Him with all his heart. And, those of you who know the Lord will one day join him in that. If you do not know the Lord, I ask you: where is your hope? We have the confidence of knowing that death is not the end. I pray that you have that confidence as well.

The visitation was held at Harry's church. My sister, Brian, and their older kids got their early to have time to say their good-byes privately. Brian talked to the kids and explained that they would see their grandfather again, and then they prayed together.

Each kid had written a letter to their grandfather, and one by one they came up and placed them in the casket. Brian took that time to remind each child of special times with him.

Brian's brother Harry Jr., his wife, and their older children came next to say their good-byes.

Harry Sr.'s wife Jane stood with her two sons as she said good-bye.

Hundreds of friends and family came to offer their support to the family.

The funeral service

Even in their grief, the family worshipped together.

Brian and Harry Jr. were given a charge to continue in the faith of their father, and they were presented with batons as a reminder that their father had passed his baton on to them, and they were to do the same for their children.

You will be missed, Harry! Thank you for the example you left. We will see you again!


Melrose said...

Caroline, those pictures were...perfect. really. I wish we had pictures like that from Dad's funeral.

amie said...

Caroline, Hello, my name is Amie Beasley. I am a friend of Kristen's. These pictures are beautiful. I have photographed several funerals and it is NOT easy. You did a fabulous job. It seems so odd to do at the time but when you have the pictures to look back it is so nice to have them. And it means so much to the families.
Great work!!