Reflections on Remembrance by the River

This is an update to our July 9th post. Now with video.

Things never seem to go as planned. A team of us from the hospice have been planning our annual Remembrance by the River for the last four months. We planned what flowers were to be used for the ceremony, arranged for musicians to come, organized the service, sent out invitations, and even coordinated what we were going to wear. And then I woke up Saturday morning to a sky full of rain clouds. It wasn’t raining, but the threat was real. What were we going to do if the rain poured and washed out our outdoor event?

I arrived at the Chesapeake Finish Line Tower about an hour before the event. It wasn’t raining, but I quickly saw we had another issue. The deck we were using for our ceremony was crowded with kayakers. I couldn’t help but laugh because at last year’s event there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and there was also no one on the water. Last year it was as if the entire river was reserved for our ceremony. This year, however, it looked like the entire city of OKC came out to row in the rain. 

As the service began at 9am the rain started on us. Fortunately, it never turned into anything more than a very light drizzle. During the service two thoughts kept coming to my mind. First was “uncertainty” and the other was “life”.

All week long we were watching the weather and unsure as to whether we were going to have to cancel or move the event. We know some people missed the event because of that uncertainty. During the program I just thought “isn’t this how life is? We can plan and plan and have everything laid out perfectly, but surprises always seem to show up.” Those attending the event were there because of life’s uncertainty. Plans had been made and then changed. And now here we were trying to wrap our minds around those unexpected changes. 

So why was I thinking so much about life? This event was centered on one thing and that was to give space for hospice staff and the bereaved to pause and remember patients and loved ones. In the middle of this space life was happening all around us. The world did not stop because we were there to have this ceremony. People who wanted to enjoy the river still came to the river. People who wanted to row still came and rowed. I can’t think of a better metaphor for what it feels like right after a loss than the army of kayakers doing their thing in the mist of our Remembrance. As much as it feels like the world has stopped spinning, it hasn’t. Even though we want it to, it doesn’t. But for me, coming together and reflecting with others like this helps me focus on life a bit more and helps me embrace some of the uncertainty that will undoubtedly come.