My son has a hard time sitting still, but there he was, barely moving, his eyes fixated on the screen at the front where a slideshow was playing of photos of his great uncle, from toddler, to young man, to grinning groom in a 70’s wedding tux, to father, to grandfather, to middle age, to the skinny, yet joyful, man he knew, a man who fought pancreatic cancer for many years, astonishing his doctors.
There is something to hearing it; how the deceased is remembered, what stood out about them and the way they lived their lives, what made them dear and irreplaceable.
I heard many good words today; I saw men wiping away tears, I saw a good man remembered and mourned.
I was glad to remember him, and glad too that my children and I could hear the accounting of him by others who knew him in other spheres of life. I am glad we heard what makes an impression on folks around us, and what clearly doesn’t. There was nothing about his looks or his clothes or his car; nothing about his net worth. We heard how he loved others, how he enjoyed the people around him, how in the midst of suffering he served, how he trusted God, and how he never complained, no matter how bad it got.
These aren’t words for the wind.
They are meant to be caught, and chewed, and swallowed; they’re meant to become part of us and how we live our days, so that, by God’s mercy, our own funerals may one day serve to point toward the good and holy way for the ones we leave behind.
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”