It was a moment marked by joy and tragedy, a realization of the impact of loss. My closest friend was walking in the door of the church as a recording of another friend’s beautiful voice filled the building. I had not seen my approaching friend in almost 7 years, (you can read a bit about that here) and the singer’s voice was a poignant reminder of how fragile life is. The voice belonged to Rick, who had recently passed away, suddenly and tragically, and he was the reason we were now gathered in this place. He was one of my very favorite singers, I mean… he was GOOD! I kept thinking how much he would have loved to know he was playing such a big part in reuniting my friend and I.
The whole weekend was becoming an emotional blast-to-the-past. We traveled the 10 hour drive up with friends who had walked with us through the pain of infertility. They had been our buddies who all too well understood the emotional cost of having no control over trying to start a family. It’s amazing how we were instantly back in time, laughing over the memories and inside jokes. We hadn’t spent this much time together in over a decade, yet the bond remained firmly in place.
The memorial service was an incredible mixture of feelings, and I’ve been trying to reconcile the range of opposing emotions I felt as the day unfolded. I found the sheer weight of grief unbearable, yet we laughed until we cried over the stories being shared of the CRAZY things Rick did during his life. He was the most outgoing person I have ever known, and could care less what people thought of him as long as he could get you to laugh. Most of the audience wore nametags of the nickname given to them by Rick. Mine was ‘Lawri.’ His sister-in-law, Sherine, was ‘Latrine’ and our good friend Angel…’Anal’… to name a few.
There was a lot of time after the service to reconnect with friends. I spent at least 30 minutes taking pictures with my three friends who have all moved away. We could not stop giggling (ok… HOWLING) as we launched right back into our old pattern of trying to get the perfect shot of the four of us. Every angle and formation was explored, and we even had several different ‘photographers’ attempt to capture the moment perfectly. As you can see… mission accomplished! Ha!
I guess the purpose of this post is to say life comes in waves and it’s okay to experience polar emotions in the same setting on the same day. I was having twinges of guilt for being so happy at such a sad event. But that’s just it… it’s because of the joy of knowing Rick all these years that I was conflicted. He brought together a room full of people, connected by him. The profound loss created a profound sense of community.
Rick loved Jesus, and one day in eternity, this moment will have a do-over… minus all the sadness.
Shawna, Rick’s wife, chose the following verses for the back of the program. These verses are the tag-line for my blog, personal favorites that have ministered to me as I’ve walked through the loss of my mom and my own struggle with cancer.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor ANYTHING else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:38-39)
Hug your loved ones today.
Show kindness and offer forgiveness.
Do whatever you can to stay connected to those who have journeyed through the different seasons of your life.
Perhaps, start by giving them a unique nickname… (Remember…’Latrine’ and ‘Anal’ are already taken.)