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In Protest of Wearing Black

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One week. Three deaths. Two funerals. To say it’s a lot is saying too little.

Life can get heavy. Feeling the pain of loss and watching those you care about endure it is hard stuff, a tsunami that drags us through its violent emotional waters. When the memorials and funerals and formal farewells come, we pull out black dresses and suits in recognition of the darkness of loss. Black makes sense. But it’s not the whole story and I won’t give in to it completely.

Just like always at these ceremonies, I protested the darkness and wore color over black. It’s my little way of acknowledging brutality of loss, but standing in defiance of it, too. It’s my message, in garment-form, that even in the midst of black, there is more. There is the colorful wake that trails behind a life.

It’s the brightness in Don’s acts of kindness and devotion to his family and community. HIs is a legacy that leaves me wanting to be more, to do better. Like him.

It’s in Carolyn, who took joy in small things like conversations and watching a sunset over the lake. Not long before she died, she called me to her bookcase and pointed out her favorite reads, and then said she couldn’t wait to one day add my book to her collection, filling me with encouragement she didn’t know I needed.

And it’s in Jim, a man I never met, but had prayed for as his health declined. I suspect I have seen his faith and kindness many times over in his daughter, my dear friend, Edie.

Those who brighten our lives deserve more than black. But color isn’t just for them. It’s for us, too, our reminder that this is not a final farewell.

There will, I believe in the deepest spaces of my soul, also be reunion in the faraway, yet closer than we realize place, where all is well. All are whole. Color and beauty abound and darkness is no more. I protest not only in honor of what is now, but even more so in honor of what’s to come. That which is so much more than this. God’s own.

Yes, we weep. We mourn. We miss deeply, achingly. We wear black in this time of darkness. And yet, even in the midst of mourning, color pushes us to rejoice, too. For what we have had and what we will have once more. Bright and beautiful, then and again.

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