I went to a funeral yesterday. I laughed a lot. At the funeral. During the service.
And that was the point…
The life we celebrated yesterday was that of a man I had never met, but the service was standing room only with others who knew him and loved him. My wife and his wife are former co-workers. The kind that have known each other so long and remained in contact that they have become family. My wife was devastated by her friend’s loss. And so, it was a priority we attend the funeral.
Allow me to digress, for a moment.
I’m not big on funerals. Who is? How does one not think of one’s own mortality at a funeral? Honestly I think most funerals miss the point of what a funeral should really be about. That it is a celebration. A celebration of life, to honor someone who hopefully blessed and enriched our lives. I think funerals should be raucous, fun affairs full of stories and remembrance and laughter. That is how I’d like mine to be, anyway. No suits allowed. Shorts and t-shirts (I’ll do my best to go when the weather is warm.) Music, dancing, food, fellowship and love. A party. Sure, I hope people miss me. But I hope they laugh when they remember me.
That’s what we did yesterday. Barry was loved by so many, and they loved him because of his sense of humor. The pastor invited everyone who had gathered if they wished to say a word about their relationship with this man to either stand or come forward. My wife and I remarked later that we have never seen so many people come forward and speak. And they all made us laugh. Even the woman who was crying so much she could barely speak. We laughed through her story, and through her tears and through her love for this man. We laughed, because we knew that’s what Barry would have wanted.
I have to say, it’s the best funeral I’ve ever been to. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? I had a good time. I saw some people I haven’t seen in a long time, more friends and former co-workers of Sandra’s. We enjoyed a nice lunch together at the reception. And Barry’s wife joined us for about half an hour. More laughter ensued.
I felt better about life leaving the cemetery yesterday. I felt rejuvenated in my love for life, my love for my friends and my love for my family.
A man I had never met, I had never known, and who had already left this world had an impact on me yesterday.
Truthfully, I thank him and the love he and his wife shared. She was so happy there was so much laughter. When we sat together she couldn’t help but tell stories. Funny, life affirming stories.
She’s sad, and the tears flowed. The time ahead will be tough and challenging, and at times very lonely. But I think she’ll be fine. I think she has a lifetime of memories to keep her smiling and laughing. And I know her well enough to say I think she’ll keep Barry’s spirit alive. She’s quick with a smile, and that alone might just do it.
That smile transcends the hurt and pain. It did for me, anyway. Her smile told me all I needed to know about her husband. That he was a kind and generous spirit. And more so than anything else, that he loved her completely.
Yesterday was a special day for me.
It was special because of the lessons I learned from Barry. And I thought that was it. That love and laughter can still have an impact after we’re gone. But I didn’t walk away from the funeral yesterday thinking about my own mortality. Just the opposite. And when I returned home and received the mail, I found a letter from a dear friend that helped bring my day full circle.
It was a Christmas card, and with it a refrigerator magnet imprinted with the above quote “Happiness is a journey, not a destination…”
This friend has a thing for refrigerator magnets.
She also has a way of reaching me where it matters most. She understands my joy in motivational sayings and inspirational thought. She knows that for me, happiness is choice. It’s a mental game. She understands. And she is a part of this journey.
That full circle. More love and fellowship. My first magnet made me laugh. This one made me think. It made me think about the journey we are on. The obstacles we face and more importantly, how we face them. Time waits for no one. We must do what we can with the time that is given to us.
And so, as I continue on my journey, I will say I am thankful for Barry and his wife, Sheri and the love and laughter they shared. Not only with each other, but with me and my wife as well. I am thankful for my friend for her generous gift of friendship, love and support.
I am thankful for my wife and my girls, and for my family and friends. May we find something in each day to laugh and smile about. May it fill our hearts with love and joy. May the journey bring us happiness, and if it brings us pain or sorrow, may we endure those times together. May all these things be possible, so that when we are gone we can remember.