My mother is a church organist, and frequently plays for funerals. There are those which are attended by a scattering of parishioners, who sparsely populate random benches throughout the church. There are the funerals of the regular churchgoers which are attended by a few members of the family, who have clearly not darkened the door of a church for years, and many of whom have not visited the deceased for some time before their death.
And then there was the funeral she played for this week. The church was packed with people of all ages. All were there to celebrate the life of a person who had clearly had a very important role in their lives. They knew him from the many different activities he had participated in, and from the many different groups of which he had been a member. My mother was struck by how much this man had been loved, how well he had been cared for and how central a role he had had in so many lives.
She attends on average at least a funeral a week, and has done so for many years, but she found this funeral a particularly moving experience, because of the love that so many people clearly had for the deceased.
The man whose life was being celebrated was not a young man, and at birth he had probably not been expected to live so long. In fact, the majority of mothers these days who are faced with the prospect that their child may be like him choose never to let that child see the light of day.
This man who was so loved by so many people had Down's Syndrome.
Thank God for his long, happy and fruitful life, and may he rest in peace.