Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Saying Goodbye...


Today I was granted the unique opportunity to say goodbye to one of the people from my old church who watched me grow up. Harold, a family friend, passed away over the weekend. They held a funeral for him which I could not attend and they laid him to rest today at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery here in Springfield. He was in the Navy, and his age suggests that he was in WWII, though I don't know for sure. There are so many things I'd like to say about the event, but I'll try and limit myself to the most meaningful.

Let me just say that it was perfect. The weather was gorgeous, the grasses green, the military scene somber yet joyful. There were not many people there, which I feel made it more meaningful. My dad was there and he gave a few well-placed words (he used the verse I wrote about a few weeks ago from Ephesians), and I was never so proud to be the son of such an eloquent, loving, compassionate, wise father. Dad, I know you read this and I wrote that on purpose to let you know how much I love you and how thankful I am to have you in my life.

The way we talked about Harold was perfect as well. We didn't drone about how much we missed him or wonder whether he was enjoying his afterlife. We talked about the things and people he loved, remembered the wonderful father and husband he had been, and rejoiced for his passing. It was like Harold had finished a marathon and we were all having a bittersweet celebration to commemorate.

When we had said our peace and walked away from the cemetery, every breath was sweeter. Every glance at each other was more loving. Each word said was more meaningful, and the silence was more deliberate and thoughtful. Everyone dies, my friends, but that is a good thing. Death brings more meaning to life. Only in the face of death can we realize how precious our waking moments are. Realizing impermanence instills a sense of meaning in our compassion towards each other, encourages us to live more fully and reach out to those whom we may have forgotten in our toils.

All in all, it was the perfect day. We said so long to an old friend who had put in his time. We would all miss him, but more than that we were all proud of how he'd lived his life. He lives on in the love he has instilled in his family and in those, like myself, who knew him. What a legacy! Who'd have thought I would be deriving so much positive thought and joy from the passing of someone so precious, but I can't help but think that Harold wouldn't have it any other way.

4 comments:

PeterAtLarge said...

Sounds like a great celebration. The right way to go...

PeterAtLarge said...

Sounds like a great celebration. The right way to go...

PeterAtLarge said...

Sorry, I meant that only once!

revwalt said...

Mark, I can't tell you how touched I am. I love you so much and I am so proud of the man you have grown to be. I hope to always be worthy of your respect. I am so proud to call you my son. Love always, Dad