I’ve been to two funerals recently. Two “good” funerals. Both were for good people who left us too soon. Both of whom would still be here if it were a matter of who deserves a long life based on merit. I left both services wanting to be a better person.
The first was for Tom, a man I never really knew. The brain tumor that would take his life had already taken his ability to speak and move freely by the time I knew him. I mostly knew him through his wife, who was devoted to him and a wonderful person in her own right. You could see how loved he was though. After he got sick the men in his church small group, that he had poured so much into, brought the group to his home every week, right up to the week he died. Even though he couldn’t speak, they wanted him to feel community.
At his service people who had known him in many different ways spoke, and as they did, they painted me a picture of the teammate, church member, husband, father, brother and friend he was to them. And I could see for the myself the wonderful man he had been. The one thing said about him that has really stayed with me, was that he could always see when someone felt left out and knew how to draw them in. What a lovely gift.
And then I began to realize that I had known him, maybe not the stone itself, but the ripples the stone had caused, that are still going out. His wife’s kindness to me, drawing me in at a difficult time. The families of those men in his small group still diligently serving and living others. The way even in his death he inspired people to be better.
And then there was Rhoda, whom I did know and whom I loved. Who left us a week before her 60th birthday, after fighting two kinds of cancer. I heard so many good things about her yesterday, all of them true and yet somehow not enough to convey her sweet, serene spirit. She would’ve been amazed at the accolades and depth of love poured out for her yesterday, and probably feel she didn’t deserve it. Because part of why she was so wonderful was that she didn’t know how wonderful she was. Many people who knew her in many different ways, all saying the same thing. That from her closest family, to friends, to the custodian at her school, she saw them, that she touched them, that she cared.
And that was when I realized what it was about her. She was really good at loving people, and she just started with the people in front of her, whoever they were. And if you do that for 59 years you can touch a lot of lives and leave a lot of ripples behind you.
So today as I head out into this rainy Saturday, the first of the rest of my life, be it long or be it short, may I remember the lessons. Look for the one who is is left out and bring them in, and love the one who is in front of me, whoever that may be, with everything I’ve got.
One thought on “Two Good Funerals”
Beautiful description of the way I too have felt leaving funerals I attended. The best funerals (weird to say) are the ones you feel that way when you leave. I too strive to be better to others.
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