In Memory of Norma Rivera

This post is dedicated to my late aunt, Norma Rivera. The post is a written copy of a tribute I gave at her memorial service. Included within the tribute are excerpts from a previous blog post (It’s a Matter of Life and Death).

In Memory of Aunt Norma
Tribute given on: April 16, 2014

No amount of emotional preparation can prepare you for a moment such as this. A moment we all know we will confront at some point in our lives, the moment of our final earthly goodbye to a close friend or family member.

Today is such a day, and it’s with deep sorrow in our hearts that we gather to say goodbye to Aunt Norma. In our goodbyes we are provided the opportunity to realize the strength of family. It is in our deepest sorrow that the best in us is revealed, when our heart aches we shed the falsities that conceal where we are most vulnerable. In our grief, we demonstrate humanities need for comfort and togetherness. And in this moment, we stand in full support of each other as we say farewell.

We say farewell to a life well lived. A life that touched so many of us. Growing up I remember Aunt Norma being the bearer of many gifts. Her heart filled with joy to put a smile on the face of children. Her giving gifts, changed the world for the impacted child, even for just a moment. She was thoughtful. Having relocated to Texas several years ago, I’m most touched when I reminisce of happier times and the phone calls I received ever so often from Aunt Norma, just to say hi and to see how I was doing. It was a gesture I took for granted, but in her absence, I now realize how each phone call was indeed a momentous occasion. I smile through the tears when I recall how Aunt Norma was never too shy to start making her signature moves on the dance floor. For those who don’t know, our family never shies away from an opportunity to put on a party and to dance the night away. On many occasions I watched in awe as Aunt Norma brought back dance moves from eras I never had the opportunity to experience. In dancing it was almost as if she was transported to a world that was beyond our time. She glided along the dance floor, celebrating the moment, she danced as if no one was watching. If you never have before, I encourage you to do the same. Life is short, and in this short moment we should not spend it worried about what others may think, worried about failing, or worried about tomorrow. We instead should dance without inhibitions, smile often, and love more.

Life is more than the breath we take, it is about the people we embrace, the people who help to make our lived experiences a better one. Life is about the moments we create, the occasions we celebrate, and the opportunities we have to do good for someone else. When we pause and realize that life is short, we get to understand the importance of every moment we have here on earth. It does not take us long to realize that the car we drive, or the money we have in the bank adds little, if any value to our collective experience as human beings. While material things may give us social status, the greatest gift of all is the fact that despite our economic situation, it doesn’t cost to love. There is not a price tag on happiness, or a tax for giving a smile. Life is about the moments we create and our ability to see what is good about humanity, while acknowledging what isn’t.

Life is about understanding that we are only here for a little while and seek to maximize how we spend each waking moment. Death gives us the opportunity to be reminded that life is indeed brief. Death teaches us that all things have a cycle, a cycle which has an end and a beginning. A cycle that at each point gives us an opportunity to engage, although briefly, in the things that make the human experience worthwhile.

If we understand the lessons that death teaches us, maybe we would be less prone to hate, and instead pursue opportunities to demonstrate love. Perhaps we would fight less, and embrace more. Perhaps we would realize that every material item in our possession is replaceable, life isn’t. The sooner we realize the value in life, the less likely we would be to allow money to destroy relationships. We would value the time spent with friends and family more than we value the currency in our bank accounts. While I do agree that money is a necessity to survive in our world, I think we overemphasize what it adds to our quality of life.

So as we say our goodbyes, let us learn the lesson from this moment. Let us learn that until we come to the end of our own journey, we should live each moment as if tomorrow was never promised… The truth is, it isn’t.

Aunt Norma, you lived a full life, we will miss you, but we will forever celebrate the joys you brought to our lives. Whenever we spoke on the phone you always ended the conversation with, take care Deemi. And so today, we say to you, collectively. Take care Aunt Norma, take care.

© Dimitri Lyon and, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dimitri Lyon and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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