While I felt that I was fully present during the memorial service for Paul last Saturday, I realized listening to the audio recording for the first time that I missed a few things. In fact, I hear something different each time I listen. But through each listening, one thought remains constant: we were singing the song of life. A song of Paul’s life, extraordinary, brilliant, and too brief, and a song of the ways in which that life changed our lives.
The service closed with a reading from the Roman philosopher Seneca, from which the phrase “to sing the song of life” is taken. The sound cuts out for a few seconds during the reading, so I’m including the full text below. We read this passage at the memorial service for my father, just weeks after Paul’s diagnosis, so I’ve heard Paul, standing next to me, reading these powerful words. I never expected to be reading them again so soon, nor without Paul by my side.
In the presence of death, we must continue to sing the song of life.
We must be able to accept death and go from its presence
better able to bear our burdens and to lighten the load of others.
Out of our sorrows should come understanding.
Through our sorrows, we join with all of those before who have had to suffer
and all of those who will yet have to do so.
Let us not be gripped by the fear of death.
If another day be added to our lives, let us joyfully receive it,
but let us not anxiously depend on our tomorrows.
Though we grieve the deaths of our loved ones,
we accept them and hold on to our memories as precious gifts.
Let us make the best of our loved ones while they are with us,
and let us not bury our love with death.