Tag Archives: funeral

All The Ways We Die

Yesterday, the family attended a family funeral. My wife’s uncle passed away last week from a number of health issues. He was 81 years old. His first great grandchild was there. She is 4 months old. However,  his daughter was not at the funeral because she lost her battle with cancer earlier this year.

Now, stay with me here, this is going to get sad for a little while. I started to think about all the funerals I have attended. Thought about all the people I had lost in my life, and how each person’s death was different.

During her freshman year, a former student was killed by a drunk driver.

My friend and former principal suffered a fatal heart attack.

As I listened to the service, I pondered how fragile life is. We all know that death is part of our lives. We do not know how we will die. We do not know the day. But we know death is part of the deal.

I started to reflect on the state of our culture, on the state of our world, and I wondered how we ever let life get to this point. I couldn’t wrap my heart around what is happening in our world.

“Love is the only rational act.” Morrie Schwarts

Only the family attended the burial ceremony. I held my wife’s hand. My four daughters and second son stood around us. Family.

Life is fragile. Love is strong. The world may fall apart but love will stand and rebuild when needed.

I know I will die. I don’t know when. I don’t know how. Could be any number of ways. What I do know is that today I can love, and that makes sense to me.

 

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The Dash

I was doing some digital cleaning of my files when I came across the rough draft of an old blog post. Due to job changes, most of my original posts are lost or in rough draft form. This post was not in the usual folder I keep for my writing so I was surprised to find it. It was written December, 1, 2010. I have made some small edits, but decided to post it as is. I hope you enjoy, “The Dash”.


Yesterday my wife and I attended the funeral of a family member on my wife’s side.  We also went to the burial site ceremony. As the preacher talked, I could not help but to gaze at the headstone by my feet.  The person was born in 1905 and died in 1988. Eighty-three years of life. Now; two dates and the dash between (Yes, I know the poem “The Dash”).  I walked around after the services to look at other headstones. Some were so weatherworn that I couldn’t read the names, others had rings interconnected with wedding dates, and newer headstones had no death date.  Waiting for the occupant to die so that the death equation could be filled in:  Birth – Dash – Death.

It has been a hard 2010 for me.  I have had friends move away, coaching positions removed from me, a handful of students who simply do not care but thought it was my fault for their educational experience.

I have had some great moments in 2010.  Coaching a junior high girls basketball team that is simply talented.  Receiving awards and opportunities to speak or present at conferences. Taking seven athletes to state track.  Getting the opportunity to build a home. The continuing experience called Fatherhood.

2010 will be remembered on my headstone as a dash.

A dash.  That’s it.

Life will go on without me when I complete my own death equation.  Steve Jobs discusses this in his Stanford Speech: “…almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Pearl Jam also expresses this idea in a simple line from their song “I am Mine”

I know I was born and I know that I’ll die
The in between is mine

But do we?

Do I?

Have I synthesized this information (reading strategy, I know. I am an English teacher)? Have I spent too much time in a bad mood?  Have I spent too much time waiting for tomorrow to be better? Am I where I am needed and wanted?

Are you?

I have been shown this year, in different ways, that life goes on without me. At the funeral service, the message was centered on the idea that our lives are our sermon to the world.  My life, my sermon, will be a dash on a headstone, but I hope it is felt in the hearts of my family and friends.

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Death

I cried today because of an email delivery failure.

I sent a group message about a guest blog post I wrote. I received the basic message for when an email account is no longer active.
MailMessage

The account was for my good friend Graci. I attended her funeral last Wednesday. She passed away from cancer. She would like the  blog post I wrote.

This post is not going to repeat the cliche that we should live like everyday could be our last. This isn’t about making sure we tell the people we care the most about that we love them. These things are true. We know it. What we forget is how permanent Death is.

I will never again text Graci to have a good day. There will no longer be crazy life conversations in her office. She will not read this blog post. Death is permanent. That is why it is so hard to deal with. Graci’s funeral was filled with family and friends. She lived out her faith. She made people feel loved everyday. The service helped us celebrate her life, but death is permanent. Death removes all possibilities. That is what hurts. The lost chance to live like today was our last day.

 

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