Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Better than a Funeral

Funerals tend to be sad, of course. We miss the dearly departed, and feel the emptiness of the new holes in our lives. Many times I come to know the deceased better at a funeral, hearing all funny stories and reliving the poignant moments. We often wish that we had one more moment, one more conversation with the lost loved one. Something was left unsaid.

A couples of days ago my family presented me with 60 notes from 60 people in my tribe, a surprise in honor of my 60th birthday. At my daughter's clandestine request, my friends and family shared brief stories, impressions, and encouragements with me. She gathered and formatted these notes and presented the collection to me on Monday, appropriately on Memorial Day.

She noted that there are recurring themes shared by many of the contributors. This, she said, provided a sort of window into others' perception of me, and this birthday surprise allowed her to see me with a fresh perspective.

When my father died in 2001, I left his funeral pondering the many lives that my dad had touched, in ways that I never imagined. He was a cooler dude than I had known. Oh that I could have had one more conversation! I thought I knew him, but only at his funeral did I get a wider picture.

We rarely share the good things because, well, we take each other for granted. We rarely make time in our culture for good words. Eulogies ("good words"), are given almost exclusively at funerals, sometimes at retirement dinners or good-bye parties. We need to make more time for good words. Maybe funerals would be less sad if we made it a point to say the good things. Now.

That's why my birthday surprise was so meaningful. And my daughter had glimpse into her dad, while I'm still alive. 

That's better than a funeral.