Reposted from One Day at a Time.
A few days ago, I was setting up our chapel here at the funeral home for a visitation, carrying flowers from the delivery room in the back of our building, across the hall to arrange them on stands near the casket at the front of the chapel.
We had been working the bay side of the peninsula all morning, pretty enough underneath the debris, but plagued by homicidal biting flies that make me itch even now just thinking about them and bordered by the muddy, silty, unappealing banks of the channel, and I hadn't been to the beach in over a year at that point, not since the last coast trip with the Sailing Club back in college. There was no way in hell I was going to be that close and not at least see the ocean, disaster zone or not.
A few seagulls had begun to return; we had seen the first few on the ferry crossing, and my team leader declared them a sign of hope. Even with bare foundations and shattered homes in the background, the beach was more beautiful than I had ever seen it.
Perhaps it was so beautiful because of the destruction in the background, because the contrast emphasized that peace and serenity had returned, that the Gulf's fury could wash away everything human hands had made, but not beauty and light.
I have discovered that seashell-hunting with Greg is a larger-scale operation entirely, and the last time we went to the beach, I may have had to whine and throw a tantrum to get the man out onto the beach with me, but once he got there he was insatiable, and we left with two plastic drinking cups full of shells.
I suppose I can understand the question, but for me the funeral home is not a sad place. The sadness- the moment of loss- happens elsewhere. This is a place for grieving, yes, but that grieving is the beginning of the healing process, and the service we provide, at its most fundamental level, is to facilitate the beginnings of healing. This isn't a place of sadness; it is a place of coping, of comfort, of eventual hope.
That's the underlying purpose of human remains detection, too- to bring closure, and sometimes justice, so that that process of grief and healing and life can begin more easily for those we help.
Part of my role in that, and part of my role in life in general, is to find the bright spots amid the darkness, the moments of levity amid rubble and the beauty in a rite of mourning. The world is full of death, darkness, and destruction, which I walk in by choice to do what good I can, but the seashells and the clear ocean are still beautiful, and the flowers still smell sweet.
It would never be worth it, otherwise.