Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

She is 'passing through the veil'

Wick's World


No matter how hard they try, they just can’t get them to look right in the casket. The "they" I am referring to are morticians. There is no fault or blame here. I refer to a loved one lying in the casket with, at best, the look of being at peace, whatever that look is supposed to be. You can’t make a dead person look like anything but dead. Perhaps I should use the more polite term, passed way. I prefer to say “they are passing through the veil,” because I feel the deceased are still with us and always will be. They have simply shed their worn out body.

The mortician’s problem is amplified when dealing with a person like Lisa. She always had a smile on her face. A mortician can’t just take some kind of magic marker and paste a smile on the deceased’s face. Especially one like Lisa who had the kind of smile that pushes the cheeks upward toward the eyes and somehow leaves a sparkle that touches one’s very soul.

I first met Lisa when she was 4 years old. Her uncle was my best friend and her mother was my best female friend. I became Lisa and her sister Michelle’s part-time babysitter. A half-century passed before I saw them again. My youngest cousin had called me and asked if I would perform a wedding as he was getting married to the love of his life.

My answer was naturally, “Of course I will.”

When he said his bride-to-be was Lisa Baker, all I could think of was, “This is too good to be true.”

It had been almost 50 years since I had seen the cute little blonde girl who carried with her a constant smile and sparkle in her eyes. Over the years I sometimes thought of her mother and the two sweet kids. However, the Army took me away from Chamberlain, and then life happened. As it often does, we leave home never to return again — at least not to what once was.

At the wedding, everyone could feel the deep love and bond that had developed between Lisa and Marty. Less than four years later, I got another call.

“Lisa has stage-four cancer and I can’t live without her,” was all I could interpret from the most heartbroken man on the planet.

How could I reply to that? I was simultaneously stunned and speechless. I had no words of comfort. The word “sorry” was totally inadequate, but I said it anyway.

He could barely say, “Lisa asked for you to do the ceremony when the time comes.”

“Of course,” I replied.

I have no idea what other words were spoken following that short conversation neither of us wanted to have. Everything goes blank when you are in a state of shock. There are hundreds, make that thousands, of people all around South Dakota and beyond who are still in shock about this charming young lady who has left us all too soon.

Lisa, you told me you were hoping for a year. You barely got a month. There is really only one certainty in life and I don’t have to tell you what it is. From the day we are born until the day we die, we are all marching toward the Lords of Death who are waiting to greet us in the Great Beyond.

No person more than Lisa exemplifies the statement: It’s not how long you live, it’s how you live your life. In the end, we take nothing with us and we leave only memories behind. I know I will never forget Lisa, that shining little puppy who would jump up and lick the face of dawn. Neither will a whole lot of friends and family. I knew this wonderful soul from the cradle to the grave. My only regret is the half-century gap when we were apart.

There is nothing more I can say. The word “sorry” is totally inadequate, but I said it anyway.


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