It’s been nearly a week since my last post. It isn’t that I haven’t had anything to post, it is more likely that since entering the world of FaceBook and Twitter where thoughts and ideas are stated in a few sentences and often have very little in the way of content… it has just been easier to do that… to not have to think or explore or ponder anything at length.
Yesterday I attended my second memorial service in FOUR DAYS. On Sunday was the service of a long-time activist in the LGBT community (Lisa was 66), and yesterday was the service for a long-time member of my church (John was 84).
Sunday’s service got me to thinking about my own activism in the 1980’s and 90’s, and how as of late, I have felt very disconnected from this (ever changing) group of individuals. This is, of course, of my own doing. I had a significant change in my life about nine years ago, and I just stepped back – WAY back – from the community. I never really stepped back in.
I did take away two things from Sunday’s service: (1) This community still exists for me, and I could easily step back in if I chose to. (2) A long-time activist got up and talked about wishing she had TOLD the person we were honoring how much their work meant to her before she died, and she encouraged us all to reach out now, while we can, to tell people who have touched us how much they mean to us. I plan to take that to heart.
Wednesday’s service packed our small church. It is estimated there was probably 60-70% more people in the church than we had pews to accommodate. It was a great testament to John that so many people – many of them pretty old – sat or stood for an hour and a half in a hot church. The air was on, but it was 90+ degrees outside and very crowded, and most of the men were in suit jackets.
I spent the time prior to the service (and after it began) pulling folding chairs from EVERYWHERE for those who had come to say their “farewells.” After all the chairs were in (and many, many folks still had to stand up against the outer walls), I went to the office to get more programs printed. There were two women who succumbed to the heat, and I checked on them, spent time talking with the funeral director, and gave directions and answered questions through-out the service from those who had wandered out of the service early to get “the first or the best” food or chance to be seen when it ended (their words, not mine). When all was said and done, I missed most of the service. I felt like I had missed my chance to say “good-bye” to this amazing man.
John (and his wife), had many more opportunities available than most, but they chose to be a part of a small city church that welcomed folks no matter who they were, what they looked like, whom they chose to love, how much was in their bank account, or where they went to high school. I knew him as a kind, gentle funny man long before (a good 10 years, I’m guessing) I knew what he did for a living or where he lived or who he associated with outside of church. He was just this incredibly REAL person who loved people.
Today, I listened to a recording of the homily and comments from a son and grandson off the church’s website. I listened and heard what I really needed to. John was, according to his son, one of the least judgmental people on the planet he knew (and I concur).
As I think about my own thoughts and comments to a friend – many on the snarky side – of those who I thought pretty rude because of their comments to me about wanting to be seen first after the service or wanting to be one of the first at the reception – I felt a sense of shame. I had done to them (not to their face, mind you) pretty much what they had done to me – I had lowered myself to their level instead of “Rising Above the Bullshit.”
What I want to take away from John’s passing is the drive to be more loving and accepting, and to not lower myself to the snarky side. It is time to try and be a better person. Not a bad goal, eh?