By Kathryn Dyer
Once upon a time there was a little girl named Meagan. She lived with her mommy and daddy, her big brother Corwin and her beautiful cat named Starweaver. Meagan had been out playing with her friend Cindy all day. When she came home she heard her mother talking on the phone with someone. Meagan thought that her mother's voice sounded funny and she was worried that something was wrong. She went into the living room and saw that her mother was crying.
"Okay," said her mother Elizabeth, "I'll let everyone know, call back and tell me when you find out anything else."
She hung up the phone and saw Meagan. "Oh honey!" she exclaimed, "I just got some bad news and can really use a hug." Meagan ran to hug her mother. "What's wrong Mommy?" she said, "Can I help?" Elizabeth smiled through her tears, "You've already helped by giving me a hug. That made me feel much better." She sat down and gathered Meagan into her lap, "Do you remember Jim? He used to work on the computer with your father." Meagan nodded and her mother said, "Well, Jim was just in a car accident and he's hurt very badly. He's in the hospital right now." Meagan looked up at her mother, "But that means that the doctors will make him all better, right?" Elizabeth shook her head, "They're going to try honey but sometimes a person's body gets so sick or so hurt that the doctors can't do anything to help...but they're going to do everything they can and we can help too."
"Help with what?" asked Meagan's father Michael as he came into the room with Corwin. Elizabeth helped Meagan to the floor and stood up, "Lisa just called me. Jim was hit by a truck on the way home a few hours ago." Michael's face turned pale, "Oh Goddess, how bad is it? Where is he?" Elizabeth went and hugged him, "He's at Southside Medical Center. They said that there's not much left of the car...they've got him in surgery right now but Lisa says they're not sure if they can do much for him. I was just telling Meagan that we can do something to help. I asked her if she minded if we did a healing ritual. She said that it was okay with her and that she didn't think Jim was in any shape to object right now." Elizabeth put her head down on Michael's shoulder. Meagan felt very strange. She didn't know what to do. She wanted to make things all better. Meagan looked up at her brother and saw that he was hugging their parents so she decided to hug them too. After a few minutes Michael broke the hug. He looked down at Meagan and Corwin. "Well, I would like to go to the hospital and offer Lisa our support but I want to do at least a small healing ritual first. Meagan, do you remember what the color we use for healing?" She nodded, "Green, because it's the color of life." Michael smiled, "That's right. Can you go get me one of the big green candles from the closet? And Corwin, what kind of incense do you think we should use?"
Corwin thought about it for a minute, "I have some stick incense that has rosemary and sandalwood in it...those are both good for healing." Michael nodded and Meagan and Corwin went to go get the candle and the incense while Michael and Elizabeth got the family altar ready. When it was time to raise the energy Elizabeth looked at both of them, "Remember to stop pushing before you stop pulling energy from the Earth! And while you are giving Daddy the energy try to picture Jim looking happy and well. Daddy will send the energy to the Gods and ask them to use it for the greatest good of all. That may not mean that the energy will make Jim all better. It might be best for the energy to go to his family to help them deal with Jim's accident." Meagan and Corwin nodded and then helped raise the energy. Even though her mother had said that it might not make Jim all well she still felt better then she had before.
Meagan's daddy went to the hospital. While he was gone Meagan made a get-well card to send to Jim. But when it was time for bed her father was still not home from the hospital. "It's okay," said Elizabeth, "The surgery takes a very, very long time and even after that they'll have to put Jim in the recovery room for awhile. Your daddy said that he might stay the night in case Lisa needed anything. Their children are flying in from out-of-town and daddy might have to go pick them up at the airport." Meagan nodded, "I'm just scared that something bad will happen to daddy, like it did to Jim." Elizabeth hugged her, "That's normal honey. Whenever something bad happens everyone worries that something else bad will happen too. But what happened to Jim was very unusual. And remember, you've got me and your daddy and Corwin and your grandparents and Cindy and all of your other friends and family to help take care of you and love you no matter what happens. Are you going to be okay?" Meagan sniffed and said in a quivery voice, "No. Mommy, I'm scared. Can I sleep with you tonight instead? Please?" Elizabeth hugged her again, "Okay honey, it's hard sometimes to sleep by yourself when you're scared but you'll have to sleep in your own bed tomorrow night...you tickle in your sleep!" Meagan grinned a little bit, "No I don't!" Elizabeth smiled, "How do you know if you do it when you're asleep? Besides Starweaver won't know where to sleep if you're not in your own bed. Come on now, I'll tuck you into my bed and lay down with you for a little while. But then I'm going to have to go make some more phone calls...are you sure you still want to sleep in my bed?" Meagan nodded and went to curl up in her parent's bed. She was soon fast asleep.
The next morning Michael was back. He looked very sad. "Where's mommy?" asked Meagan beginning to get very worried again. "She's gone with your brother to go buy him a new suit." Meagan was confused, "Why does he need a new suit?" Michael sat down and took Meagan's hand, "You remember that Jim was hurt very badly." Meagan nodded. "Well, the doctors all tried very hard but his body couldn't handle all the things that had happened to it and he died last night after the surgery was over." Meagan looked up at her father, "I remember when our hamster died...you said that he went to the Summerland. Has Jim gone to the Summerland too?" Michael nodded, "Yes Meagan, I believe he has. His body was just too broken for him to stay in it any longer. Your mother and Corwin and I are all going to go to his funeral. You don't have to come if you don't want to...some people don't like to see the body after the person has left it. But you knew Jim and I want to give you the chance to say good-bye if you want to. You don't have to decide now. Just think about it and let us know...if you don't want to go you can go stay with Cindy while we're gone." Meagan nodded, "I think I'll go outside to think about it." Michael smiled, "That's a very good place to think."
Meagan went outside and sat under her very favorite tree. She thought about what her parents had told her about the Summerland. She knew that it was a special place that people went to when they weren't living on the Earth in bodies. She knew that she had been in the Summerland with the Gods before she was born. Meagan thought about
seeing someone who wasn't in their body anymore. She was a little scared but she really liked Jim and Lisa and she wanted to be able to say good-bye to Jim until he came back again someday. Meagan knew that she might not know him when the Wheel turned again. She heard a car pull up and saw her mother and Corwin get out of the car. Her mother got some packages out of the car. Meagan got up to go see what they were.
"Oh good," said her mother, "has daddy had a chance to talk to you about what happened?" Meagan nodded, "He said that I could go to the funeral if I wanted and I think I want to but I've never been to one before. What are they like?" She went inside with her mother. "Well," said Elizabeth, "a lot depends on what the family wants to do to help them grieve. Jim's body will be in a long box called a coffin at the funeral home. Tonight and tomorrow all of his friends and family will come to the funeral home to see his body and to comfort each other. We'll sit or stand around and talk about all the nice things he did for us and how much we loved him. The day after tomorrow there will be a ceremony. Someone will get up and talk about Jim and they'll play some music that he loved. Then we'll go to the cemetery and they'll put his body into the ground. Not everyone does that part. Some people want their bodies to be burned when they're done with them and sometimes they scatter those ashes in a favorite place. Lisa will have a stone marker put up with Jim's name on it to mark the place where his old body is. There will be a lot of crying and people will be very sad. If you do decide to go there will always be someone who can take you somewhere else if you decide you don't want to be there anymore."
Meagan looked thoughtful, "I think I want to go say good-bye too. What will I wear?" Elizabeth took a dress out of one of the packages, "In our culture, when someone dies we wear black to show our respect for the family that's left behind. You aren't a grown-up yet so you can also wear purple. I thought that you might want to wear one of your purple outfits tonight and tomorrow and I bought this dress for you to wear to the funeral. I kinda figured that you might want to go." Meagan looked at the dress, "Yes. I think that people wear black at funerals because that's how they feel inside when they miss someone so much and they won't get to see them again." Elizabeth nodded and started to cry a little bit again. Meagan thought that she had done something wrong but her mother said, "I am so proud of you. Don't worry when you see people crying about this. Crying is one of the ways the Gods gave us to help make us feel a little better about missing the person who has died."
Meagan went to the funeral home with her family. She thought that Jim's body looked weird. It was kind of waxy and pale and it didn't smell very nice. Her father told her that they had put chemicals in it so that it wouldn't go back to the Earth before everyone had had a chance to say good-bye. Going to the funeral home was hard. Some people wondered why she was there. Meagan heard Lisa tell someone that Meagan was there for the same reason that Jim's grandchildren were there. "She was as much a part of his life as anyone else here," Lisa told them, "and I know that she misses him as much as any of us do." Meagan was glad when Lisa hugged her and told her how much her hugs helped things feel better. Meagan got a little tired during the funeral service and she started to squirm but she remembered that her mother had told her that she could go out if she needed. She decided to stay so that she could hear the music. The music wasn't sad at all. And the people who talked about Jim were sad but they talked about all the good and happy things that Jim had done for them. On the way home it started to rain. Meagan thought that maybe the Gods were crying too. She remembered the get-well card she had made. She wouldn't ever send it now but her parents had helped her make a card for Jim's family to help them feel better.
For a while after Jim had died Meagan felt funny whenever her parents drove the car. She was afraid that they would die too. But soon she realized that things like Jim dying didn't happen everyday. She still felt sad sometimes when she remembered Jim but she was glad that he was in the Summerland even if not everyone thought that was where people went when they died. One day Meagan got a thank-you note from Jim's family. It said that they felt much better when they read Meagan's card. She took the thank-you note to bed with her that night . It felt good to help someone else feel better. Starweaver jumped up onto her bed and began to purr as Meagan went to sleep. Even though she had been sad sometimes, it had been a good day.
(Click here to see the page where I got the story "Meagan's First Funeral" from).