The first one was for a friend who also happened to be a Catholic priest. His funeral was in his church, officiated by the Archbishop and attended by a lot of bishops, and about 1200 people. It was very, well churchy (especially for this non-Catholic, non-churchy friend). There was little focus on the man – more on his role in the church – and virtually no mention of his extensive, world-wide work outside of the church. That made me sad. And, yes, I miss him too. He was a good friend and mentor.
The second funeral couldn’t have been more different. It was held in a still-being-built recreation centre in a small rural town. This was the funeral for a friend’s husband who had been killed in an accident. I didn’t know him all that well, but that didn’t stop me feeling unbearably sad for my friend and her four children. People from all over gathered to celebrate his life – one that was cut short way too soon.
And just last week I heard of the sudden death of a friend on the other side of the world. I had never met Celeste Rast face-to-face but that didn’t stop us being friends. We spoke on skype, we exchanged emails and photos and shared our stories. Celeste was 82 and lived life in a way I can only aspire to. Here’s a tribute to Celeste by Patti Digh that beautifully captures Celeste’s life and influence. And yes, I’m one of those who ‘want to be Celeste when I grow up’. Oh, and Celeste set aside a special fund of $1000 just for champagne to celebrate her life. Now that’s style.
What struck me about all three of these deaths was that they were all sudden. Poof! Here one minute, gone the next.
Sort of makes me wonder about putting things off. I’ll just wait for the right moment (oh so guilty) or I’ll do this before I do that. There’s a big assumption that there will always be another chance, more time, an opportunity to make amends or to say or do what I’ve always wanted. Or maybe not.
So I guess that means for me that life has to lived, and lived well, by saying a big YES to opportunities.