My friend Steve got to attend his own funeral.
Can you imagine?
His body was filled with cancer. His treatments were prolonging his life, but they weren’t going to save him. He was surely dying. He shrugged that kind of talk off. “We start to die the day we’re born,” he reasoned. “Life’s not done until it’s done”
His co-workers at Family Christian Stores decided to “throw him” a funeral. He joked that he still planned on being at his actual funeral but he could really enjoy this one. “This is a time to laugh and cry,” he said. And he did.
I couldn’t attend the celebration. I sent a letter which was read out loud. Someone sent me a video of that. I’m so grateful. I got to see the smile on Steve’s face as I explained how much his friendship meant to me. I could always make him laugh when I worked alongside him.
What a gift.
Death is nothing at all, writes Henry Scott Holland. It does not count. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
I don’t know if these words soften the pain of losing a loved one. I pray they do.
My wife and I sat with my 95-year-old father-in-law as he was nearing the end of his extraordinary life. We were in the dining room of his Northern Michigan home when he started to laugh the joyful laugh he was known for. He was looking to his left grinning from ear to ear. And then he said through his laughter, “What is she doing here?” I looked where he was looking and there was nothing there but a window. My wife asked him, “Who, Dad. Who do you see?” He replied, “My sister, Alice. What is she doing?” And he continued to laugh.
Alice was Dad’s older sister who passed away several years earlier.
I’ll never forget that.
To me, that’s hope.
Those who go before us are out of sight, but life means all it ever meant and the life you lived with them is untouched and unchanged.
Until we meet again.