I took a brief hiatus from my sabbatical this afternoon in order to conduct a funeral service and burial. It was a very small gathering, just myself as the presiding minister along with my two sons in attendance. Together we said our goodbyes to Sylvester and solemnly laid him to rest among the night-blooming jasmine in the backyard garden.
Sylvester had only been in our home for a few weeks, but even in that short time, he had developed a personality and character that made him a beloved member of the family. Thus his untimely death was a shock, and my 7-year-old son, who had grown especially close to Sylvester, shed quite a few tears throughout the day.
I have not done many funeral services in my tenure as a pastor, but I must say this one was particularly touching in its uniqueness and brevity. Together, the three of us hollowed out a shallow impression in the damp earth, then I said a prayer, thanking God for all the amazing creatures that He has made, and asking for His special comfort on His child who was feeling very sad. Then amidst the tears we laid Sylvester to rest in the earth, covering his tiny form with loose dirt and marking the location with a stone. Both boys spontaneously added some scarlet bougainvillea petals over the grave, and we sadly filed away and back into the house.
There are now 2 graves in that patch of earth under the night-blooming jasmine. One is almost hidden now by the jasmine, a fading pink plastic butterfly that marks the grave of our daughter’s butterfly that didn’t develop fully after emerging from its chrysalis. And now this white stone marking the grave of a little boy’s beloved tadpole that didn’t quite make it to froghood.
Ahhh…the joys of being a parent…