I attended a funeral yesterday at the beautiful San Luis Rey Mission.
The death of  this friend was not unexpected - he's been sick since April.
I had so many "closing" conversations with him and he was in such acceptance of his own passing that I really did not feel the "need" to attend the formal piece of that fluffed-up goodbye ceremony. But, I went in the spirit of supporting the family: a gift born of gratitude for Mike's friendship and the color he brought into this gray world.
On the drive there, I felt no sadness or fear, just the knowledge of where I was going and what was most likely in store.
As my foot stepped on the cemetery soil, prior to laying eyes on any recognizable face, the tears sprang to my eyes. Surprised, I reminded myself of what I tell people so often -  rituals matters. Milestones, man-made gatherings around such events, occur in every culture and religion, and have since the beginning of time.
As I listened to the family, I was moved to hear about the aspects of his life that I didn't know. I was reminded of various times I had shared with my friend. We really only people through our own personal experience.
In a short sermon, Father Larry Dolan spoke of our human body as tents. As we walk further into the forest, the tent gets tattered. With rain and big winds, pieces of covering break off and fly away. Our skin and bones are just the exterior containers...we lose more and more over time.   
Words spoken by Father Larry were just what the doctor ordered. At one point, a cell phone went off with a barking "Who let the dogs out?" ring tone as the speaker, Mike's son (handsome, prim, attorney), was speaking. He looked down and said, "That's my mother in law." Of course, freakin funny! Then the priest checked his pocket and said, "No, it's a Veterinarian friend of mine." I don't know who was right but humo is so therapeutic. 
As I headed home later that morning, I passed another cemetery, of course, with my eyes more attentive to such a thing at that moment, and saw a limousine at the mortuary entrance. Then, I spotted a group of young boys, teens, lined up nearby - all wearing football jerseys. Again, I had a moment of ... feeling.
Emotions are healthy. It's a nice purging. To feel is living.

 Great Grief Book