Jim Taylor

Taylor: Following her final wishes

Life and Faith columnist Jim Taylor reflects on the one year anniversary of his wife’s passing

Saturday, March 13, marks one year since my wife’s death.

Originally, we planned to have her memorial service a week after she died.

Joan had worked with our minister at the time to plan a service that reflected her preferences.

In the 15 years she spent working at the United Church of Canada’s national offices in Toronto, the most inspiring was as an administrative assistant in the worship portfolio. She developed a deep appreciation for the church’s sacraments.

Even though it is not normally included in memorial services, she wanted to have communion at her service.

She couldn’t have anticipated that the day after her death, the province would go into COVID-19 lockdown. First, restricted numbers in any social gathering. Then, no gatherings at all.

Somehow, I thought that the new rules would not apply to anything as earth-shaking as Joan’s death. We would have a service at our church, regardless.

Nope.

Grief tends to over-react that way. After my mother died, I remember feeling astonished that buses were still running.

In those first weeks of social isolation, we didn’t know how to have a service with no one present.

One year later, we’ve learned a lot about holding virtual services. So my daughter and I felt it was time to have a service for her. Even though we still can’t gather all her friends together. And we still can’t join in singing the hymns she chose.

We wondered how much we dared deviate from her plans?

Is Joan hovering overhead, watching us to ensure we follow her last wishes?

Before my father’s death, we asked him what he wanted for his memorial service. “Do whatever you want,” he said wearily. “I won’t be there.”

I find reason and emotion are at odds.

Tradition says that there is a soul, distinct from the physical body. The body ends, but the soul carries on.

Reason balks at that distinction. We are embodied souls.

All that makes us unique individuals depends on the combination of body and spirit. Our minds need sensory input from our bodies; without bodies, our minds cease to function, even to exist.

Once we are gone, reason says, we are gone. Period.

At the same time, I’m sure I’ve heard Joan’s voice inside my head when I’ve been working late at my computer: “Are you almost finished?”

And when I hear of another old friend’s death, my first thought is still, “I must tell Joan.”

I woke one night, and felt someone get out of the other side of the bed, shuffle to the bathroom, come back and climb into bed.

I almost called out. I felt – there is no other word for it – a wild exhilaration.

I was conscious enough to know I was not dreaming.

I was also conscious enough to know that if I opened my eyes, there would be nothing to see.

So is she still here? Or isn’t she? In the end, it’s immaterial.

A lot has changed over the last year. If she’s not here anymore, it doesn’t matter whether we adhere to her wishes. And if she is, she’ll understand why we had to make some changes.

Jim Taylor lives in Lake Country.

rewrite@shaw.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(ITV photo)
COLUMN: Lessons from Lockdown: Season 5 is easily Love Island’s best

Let’s be honest, not all of our time spent in lockdown is productive, and that’s OK

Waterfront owners on Kalamalka Lake might want to check their docks, as one was spotted floating around the Oyama end of the lake Thursday, April 22. (Nick Clements photo)
‘Anyone lose a dock?’ in Vernon or Lake Country

Wooden structure spotted at south end of Kalamalka Lake

Vernon Christian School had its first COVID-19 exposure in April 2021. (VCS photo)
Silver Star, Vernon Christian schools latest in COVID-19 exposures

Clarence Fulton and VSS also reporting potential exposures

A screen capture from Chris “Sky” Saccoccia’s Twitch live stream of his rally in Kelowna’s Stuart Park on April 22, 2021. (therealchrisskytv/Twitch.tv)
Anti-mask activist Chris Sky descends on Kelowna, incites violation of COVID-19 health orders

The appearance is part of Chris “Sky” Saccoccia’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ that is currently travelling cross-country

Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)
Many factors considered for smaller community-wide vaccination: Interior Health

East Kootenay resort town’s COVID-19 situation not at the point of community-wide vaccination, say officials

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

BC Wildfire Service
Small wildfire ignites in the Shuswap

The blaze is about 10 km east of the Squilax Bridge

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
EDITORIAL: High marks for Canada’s democratic process

Accusations of widespread corruption do not hold up

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will issue an apology for Canada’s treatment of Itaian-Canadians during the Second World War. (CPAC)
COLUMN: Apologizing for an uncomfortable wartime decision

Canada’s government will apologize for its treatment of Italian-Canadians during the Second World War

Vernon RCMP are seeking the public’s help in identifying a man who allegedly pointed a firearm at two people outside a downtown business Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Contributed)
Man who brandished firearm in downtown Vernon sought by police

Video surveillance image shows man pointing what investigators believe to be a handgun April 10

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RauDZ pop-up patio located on Pandosy Street in front of The Okanagan Table. (Contributed: Audrey Surrao)
Kelowna restaurant gets creative to adjust to new health orders

The owners of RauDZ Regional Table open ‘pop-up patio’ to adjust to health order banning indoor dining

Most Read