When I first found out, I wanted to do something, but I felt like I didn't have anything to offer. I've lost a family member. It's incredibly hard. And there's not much anyone can say to you that makes you feel better. To be completely honest, you don't really remember much of what anyone says during that time. I mean, you can say, "I'm sorry." but that's about all. In moments like that, nothing else really seems to matter.
I remember sitting down with this friend at a coffee shop several weeks after my dad died in 2006. I remember telling him this story from the funeral.
I was sitting next to my brothers with huge tears in my eyes and Kleenex stuffed in my hand. This horrible version of On Eagles Wings started playing. It had always been one of my dad's favorites. But this version was unbearable. It was like nails scraping against a chalkboard. My brothers and I started laughing...uncontrollably. I remember someone from the row behind us reaching up and putting their hand on my brother's back because they thought he was upset. We just sat there, laughing through tears. It felt so irreverant, but so appropriate all at the same time. My dad always hated when people who couldn't really sing would canter at church. I remember growing up, I always knew when a snide remark was coming based on the first few words of a song. And there we were at his own funeral listening to this awful rendition of one of his favorite songs. All we could do was laugh.
After I told my friend the story, he just looked at me through sips of his coffee, shrugged his shoulders and said, "Well, that's life. Sometimes it's pretty funny."
I have no idea why I remember that conversation, but it's one of the few from that time that I actually remember very vividly.
In the card I send him a few weeks back, I reminded my friend of that conversation and what he said to me and how it has stuck with me all these years. I told him that through the pain, I was praying that him and his family could remember the good times and remember to laugh...because sometimes, life is funny.
We talked today for a while about life and death and taking it all for granted. But through it all, I love that it was his own words that spoke to him more than anything else.
It's also funny that tonight, before I started this entry, I went back and read some of my posts from that time in my life (there aren't many because it was such a private time, I mostly used my journal). I found this excerpt from a prayer on the night my father died (To read the entire post, click here. ):
"Remind me to laugh at the little things.
Allow me to appreciate and savor the good times."
Looking back on it, it makes me so thankful that God answered that prayer. Today, I'm so thankful for love and laughter and those conversations that stick with you.