Funeral for a stranger

Last week I went to the funeral for the father of a classmate of my daughter. My daughter wasn't able to go so I went. It made me feel like a grown up because even though I didn't go to "say goodbye", it was the right thing to do as a member of this community.

I do know his older daughter, I coached her in softball. She is a lovely girl who I tried to counsel during a crying fit at our last game. She dropped a ball that she thought cost us the win. It didn't, but her heart was broken just the same. I never met her dad, the man who died suddenly from a car crash last Monday, during any of the games.

The large church filled slowly, I only knew a few people in the crowd and I didn't speak to any of them, I just sat alone just observing the room and watching the slide show that played clips of his life.  Then I read the funeral card they gave me when I signed in, and I saw his birthdate, and I saw a note from his girls, and suddenly I could not stop sobbing.  Everything just hurt. I cried like I had lost a vital part of my world. With no explanation, I just kept getting pounded by waves of ache and cried.

I got up to find a tissue and spotted a friend who hugged me and we sat together and that helped, but the feeling stayed at throat level for the rest of the ceremony. I wept and listened to eulogies and learned, in teary snippets, about this man. In this environment, we have the grace of feeling great about someone, and feeling lousy we didn't spend more time getting to know him, even when we didn't know them at all.

And that was my take away.

How do we spend our time? I know this is an old theme and one that gets used in everything from greeting cards to business management courses, but I had a clear view of this from my seat in the church. Time. How do we spend our time?

I don't mean; Do you spend it "effficiently"? I mean; In what frame of mind?  How do you use that space in your head?  "Use your time wisely!"  We hear that a lot, but it's difficult to know what wisely is, isn't it? I got a fresh view of it and I'm happy for that. That a man nearly my age with two (not three) daughters, who was a wild man of adventure and loved his music, loved his kids and made a room full of people (even strangers) cry madly, made me consider what I am doing with my time…and it did my heart good.

I went to my car and called my wife and cried all over again telling her how damn sad the whole situation was. A wife lost the love of her life, two girls lost their hero, and a family lost a beacon of light. Telling them that they should feel lucky for the time they did have with him is trivial.  Time with him is what they want.

To the Mann family; I am so sorry for your loss.

Leave a Comment