It's okay to be sad at a funeral or memorial service. Sadness comes easily at a funeral. Even for those strong in faith, the knowledge that we won't see the person again until the end of our time on this earth makes the passing of the friend hard to bear.
Being sad is the easy part. The hard part is celebrating the life. That's why many funerals--at least the ones I like--are called life celebrations.
Today my wife and I went to the memorial service of our friend Jack Beamish. If Jack was still alive, there wouldn't have been a funeral for him today. (That's the "duh" sentence.")
This is the "ah ha" sentence:
Jack Beamish lived. Jack Beamish touched my life. He touched my wife's life. He touched the lives of a lot of other people. We went to a memorial service, a celebration of Jack's life...because he lived!
Like anyone else walking around on this planet of ours, Jack had his quirks. Some of them were pretty funny.
Jack was, among other things, the ranger at a Scout camp. He and I shared a small cabin the summer I met the woman who became my wife. He was in his late sixties at the time, and I was in my late twenties.
On more than one occasion, I would wake to the sight of Jack heading to the shower in his briefs. The sight of a man in his briefs isn't one of my favorites. It ain't my idea of a great way to wake up.
I said to him once, "You look like the Grinch...and I don't want to see him in his underwear either."
He laughed, pointed out that seeing me in my underwear was no great prize, and took his shower.
You know, sometimes at memorial services they ask if anyone has a memory they would like to share.
Thinking of the Grinch line and Jack in his underwear... I took a pass on the opportunity to share what was on my mind. I just shook my head and laughed (yes, I did!) to myself.
There was a lot to laugh about, thinking of Jack. The man had a great deal of love for people, and the camp he nurtured and cared for. His love of the Lord was always there, but never forced upon others. He was a true friend. He was also human, and we all do funny things.
I was grateful for the great job one of his fellow Scouters did with the eulogy. He was able to help us remember Jack's quirks, personality, and love. He spoke of a life well-lived, and the laughs he brought from us were genuine, warm, and needed.
My wife cried during the memorial service. I held her hand and passed tissues to her when she needed them. My eyes misted once or twice because I miss Jack, but I couldn't bring myself to cry. He had 87 years of making a difference under his belt when he went to the Lord, and I believe (really believe) I will see Jack again.
I'll say it again, just like I did at the beginning of this entry: