Those words were engraved into the top of a park bench in Ards Friary, Co Donegal. Now, you all know I’m partial to a bit of bench sitting, but I’ve never sat on one that had its own instructions.
To be honest, I was too distracted by the beautiful view of woodland, golden sand and clear water to do anything but the first part of that command, but for days later I thought about it.
Memories are tricky things – they can bring back a world of pain in an instant, they can feed bitterness, they can distort the truth of the past. This time, however, the line on the seat was careful to direct the sitter’s thoughts towards happiness.
When somebody dies, those closest to them take a long time before they can truly smile at the thought of their loved one. But when that becomes possible, grief can occasionally subside a little to let in joy. And healing. My auntie reminded us all recently of a funny thing my granny did on the day she died, and every time I think about it, I’m laughing. She was a hilarious wee lady sometimes. My husband’s granny passed away just last weekend, but already the grandchildren are remembering happy things about her, in the midst of their deep sadness.
I suppose the Irish wake provides that crucial opportunity to reminisce and have a chuckle over incidents or funny quirks of the life that has gone. There is something really special about shared remembering, and the shared laughter that results. Things that were unnoticed or forgotten are brought to mind, and all at once the person who has left this world is brought close again.
So here’s to good memories, and the relief they can bring.
Give it a go – think of someone you miss, search your mind for something they did or said…and smile!