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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

Alone


Yesterday, I attended a funeral for the father of a dear friend. He lived, as they say, a good life. He was a Harbor Pilot, a friend to many and a man who loved to build things. That seems precious little to sum up a man’s life and indeed it isn’t the whole story—that would take volumes to fill. Today, I got the news that a close friend, someone I have known for several decades passed away unexpectedly last night. I am still processing that news even as I write this.

The circumstances are unimportant—eventually we all will leave this life, and it will likely be unexpected. That matters little. At times like these it is easy to slip into time-worn homilies about the meaning of life and, if you are a person of faith, the promise of eternal life on some other plane of existence. It is not comforting to most of us. We miss those we love and being told that we will someday be reunited seems a bit ephemeral as we deal with a profound sense of loss in the present. Having been through this before I am better prepared today to honor my friend the way I think he would wish me to, by remembering every funny, corny, and even silly thing we ever did and he ever said in my hearing. I also remember those endearing things he did, to reach out to someone who was hurting, in need, or just a bit down, and his wise counsel on more than one occasion. Those things live on in me and many others and for as long as they do, he lives on. So I choose today not to honor his passing with sadness but to celebrate his staying with me through these memories.

I am not alone—and when my time comes I will not be alone but filled with thoughts of those I have loved and been honored to know in my life. They guide me, and steer me unerringly to do the right thing by their examples, because that is what I choose to remember about them and keep alive within me.

Whether my obituary is long and filled with details few will note or care about or is terse and lacking is no matter to me. My passing matters only in signaling a transition but the value of our lives is being written every minute as we make our way through the world trying, failing and trying again to live life well, with love and honor—respecting those deserving of our care and finding some spark of forgiveness and charity for those who were not. By keeping those we have loved alive in our hearts and memories we live in relationship with the immortal universe. It neither cares nor knows about time, this world or another. It exists and we within it, and our existence matters to that universe, if we make it so, by how we live out our days.

If my friend were here right now he would crack a joke, just to break the mood and remind me to be less serious. That’s one of the things I cherish about him—a great sense of humor and the wisdom to know when to use it. I seldom saw him deeply serious, although I saw him in awe of others, members of his family and friends, many times. I could never quite put one over on him—our kidding back and forth had rules and one of them was never to laugh out loud. So I’ll just laugh quietly and remember him today, tomorrow and forever.


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