Earlier today I spoke with Vicky Lee Boyajian, the greatest caterer in all of Belmont and parts of Watertown. In June of 2009, Vicky catered my daughter Angelique’s High School Graduation Party. Those of you who were there know what a fabulous party it was. Those of you who weren’t there will get some idea of how spectacular the party was once you hear that, as a result, the entire Bradford Family was permanently banished from the Belmont Women’s Club. Good times!
I’ve asked Vicky to organize Pam’s collation — which, I expect, will be coming along in not too many days. I gave her one word to consider as she prepares for the affair: joy. I’m determined to make certain that Pam’s funeral, and the reception that will follow afterward, will not be focused on the sorrow and grief of material death. It will be a celebration of the wonderful life that she lived, and that she shared with so many.
Do you know the word ‘Gaudete’? It’s a Latin word, and we Catholics trot it out on the Third Sunday of Advent. It’s the name of one of our many, many feast days; but, if you ask me, it’s much more than that. Gaudete means joy. Actually, since it’s in the imperative form, it more accurately means be joyful. It means, Y’all be joyful. Be joyful together. It means, “You’re going to do it and no back talk! Do you hear?” Joy isn’t some festival to honor on one particular December Sunday; joy is our business. Joy is our job. We’re under orders.
After I spoke to Vicky, I went over to our Church in Lexington and spoke to our cantor, Joanne Messier, about the music we’d be wanting at the funeral. I told her I wanted music that was energetic and positive (did you know that Pam’s family name, Vitale, means life force?). It’s best, I’m quite sure, for us to make music that reflects the generosity and hospitality that has always characterized Pam’s life. The culmination of Pam’s earthly life should, and will, provoke a celebration. If we’re not willing to do that, why should we bother believing in the resurrection?
There will be joy at Pam’s passing, because that’s the way God planned it and because that’s the way God wants it to be. Pam has lived, and is living, for the same reason any of us do — for glory; and for glory she will die. There will be joy then, just as there’s joy now as she welcomes a stream of loving friends and family members into our home. It’s a pahhhty!
Cancer sucks, and death sucks even more. Grieve, and wail, and rend your garment because our Pammy shall soon be gone — but you’ll be leaving the job half done if that’s all you do. Not only that, but you’ll miss the whole point. My wonderful wife, our dear Pamela, is a gift for which we should always be grateful. Think of her, and when you do, let your heart soar…
…or not. 😉
It’s up to you.