Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Changed: Not Just a Charm

I work in a funeral home and its cemetery, have for over a year now. It can be tough and draining, but it's rewarding. I find it challenging and yet filled with some of the best, realest parts of human nature, and the magic of life at its end. There's only one way to say I love the industry.

I spend a lot of time with families, and a fair amount of that time is devoted to prearranging funeral and cremation services. Sometimes it's a spouse planning for his wife. Sometimes it's a woman for her sister. Other times it's an individual making his or her own plans, whether because they're of sound mind and sound body and understand that that's the right time, or because they've received a diagnosis and have no choice but to get their affairs in order. It could be years in advance, or just days before a passing.

Today I sat with the first example, a mid-age man getting some ideas on paper for his wife. He's an educated, experienced man, kind and conscientious, well-liked by the others at our establishment who know him. I've met him twice now, and he's the right kind of open and authentic, a good sort of soul. You can just tell. No red flags or false pretenses (both of which I've become rather adept at sussing out), nothing uncomfortable to vibe on.

He interrupted our flow of funeral conversation to ask, "What does the 'changed' charm mean?"

It's not often folks pay attention to the hodgepodge of pendants I usually wear together on a single chain. Rarely has anyone mentioned them, so I was surprised. But I didn't have a problem answering.

I told him I'd bought this charm -- which says "for the better" on the back -- after I left an abusive marriage several years ago. That back then it was about choosing to embrace the manifestation of change necessary for my eventual healing, and that now it's a reminder of how far I've come. "It's been seven years and I'm happier than ever, healthier," I said. Changed.

His reaction was immediate. His chocolate eyes, so close a match to his skin, turned soft and he gently placed his hand on mine as he said, "I'm so proud of you."

Real. Human. Magic.

I've gotten braver these past years. I'm not afraid to tell my story. I share when it's appropriate, if it's timely, sometimes unexpectedly, even if my voice shakes or if my passion makes me fiery. I share.

Sometimes a little charm helps start the conversation.

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