There’s this prayer they say at the end of every Catholic funeral. Well, actually the congregation usually sings it. It’s when Mass is over, the coffin and the body inside it has been blessed and incensed, and they’re about to turn it around to take it back out of church for its last journey to the cemetery. It goes like this:

Saints of God, come to her aid!
Come to meet her, angels of the Lord.
Receive her soul and present her to God, to God the Most High.
May Christ who called you take you to Himself;
May angels lead you to Abraham’s side.
Receive her soul and present her to God, to God the Most High.
Give her eternal rest, O Lord,
and may your light shine on her forever.
Receiver her soul and present her to God, to God the Most High.

That’s the part that gets me every single time. Even if I was dry eyed all the way up to that point, I’ll be crying before the song is done. I hate crying in public (though it wouldn’t be so bad if my nose wouldn’t run), so usually this aggravates me. However, today, at Shelly’s funeral, the song was a comfort.

You see, I’ve been thinking a lot the last few days about her, about the person she was. I’ve been going over my memories, pondering things in my heart. When you live with someone you get to know them on a completely different level. Strengths and weaknesses, the ways they’re awesome and the ways they’re difficult – it’s all there. While a person’s alive, it’s like their story is still being told, still being written. Anything could happen on the last page. Some surprising plot twist, an unexpected turn, who knows? Death puts the final period of the final sentence, and there are no sequels. You close the book and you think, so, what was this story I just read? Who was this person I thought I knew? There are no easy answers. Today in church, as we sang that song, I thought in my mind of the saints coming to greet Shelly, and presenting her to God, saying, “Here is this person in all of her strengths and all of her weaknesses. She belongs to You.”

I hope I may have that mercy too when my time comes.