To absent friends: we are born with only one guarantee in life – that it will surely end. Losing loved ones feels as if we’ve lost a part of ourselves, for indeed we have. And yet, the other ultimate truth, perhaps the only other ultimate truth, is that the love we create in our lives transcends the boundary of mortality. This is both a comfort and a burden. It is why we miss our loved ones so. It is the great irony of our stories – the same thing that brought us so much joy and validation can morph into ultimate grief in an instant. One solution might be to never love, and thereby avoid the pain. A better practice is to reinvent our grief into what it is: the joy and embrace that we love deeply, and the processing of that love into the fiber of our being. Thus, when our time comes, we transition not with regret and remorse and fear, but rather with peace and comfort and the knowledge that we will live on, as active participants in the grand pageant of life; for we have loved, and our love lives on forever. For love, for grief, for joy, and for life we give our eternal thanks. Blessed Be, and Amen.