Four years ago, our friends Tom and Sal lost their youngest child, Lily, age 2, to a bad vaccine reaction. I can't imaging the heartache of losing a child; it is the fear that haunts all parents.
Lily died just a few weeks before we moved here. Tom and Sal didn't want a traditional church funeral; that just didn't seem right to them and I tend to feel the same way about funerals. They say funerals are for the living, but they are so formal and somber and dismal. When I die, I want someone to throw a party, celebrate whatever I have done in this world, celebrate the gift of life we all have. So Tom and Sal threw a party. They hired Fred, who had also just recently moved to the area and who was recently laid off from the corporate world, to play songs from "O Brother Where Art Thou", which Lily loved. They danced. I hear they had a great time; I wish I had known Tom and Sal then. It took over two years and an Internet bluegrass forum for us to cross paths.
Every year since then, Tom and Sal have held a "barn dance". This year it was also dedicated to Tom's father, who had lived with them and died in September. His last words were "I feel happy!" While it is not held in a barn anymore, there is still a dance with a professional caller, and old time musicians. This is the second year we have attended; I brought my mandolin and joined in for the last dance set, after the potluck dinner.
I think we all need to dance more and worry less. I think we need to celebrate life instead of going through somber rituals and worrying about what people think. Laughter, dancing, music...this is what it's all about.