As one calendar year passes away, and we embark upon what we choose to consider a “new” one, I am reminded of a life that suddenly ended this time of year, not long ago. The following was written on the death of someone I barely knew, but who was deeply loved by someone I love. I send it to you in remembrance of all the lives that began and ended in the past year, and appreciation for all that will begin and end in the days to come. Many of those lives we never know, and never will, but, like all of our lives, they inevitably carry their portions of grief and joy. They are all sacred. May yours be filled with the richness and deep mystery of life.
“We are grateful for your loving presence here, to honor the life of a singular man. We have come together to reflect on a life about which each of us knew only a part. Many of you never knew him at all – but only knew of him, through your friendship with his family. His long separation from his family was his choice, and he worked hard at it. We may never know why he made that decision, but it was his. And, now, the Universe has brought us all here together to remember him.
What we do know is that he was a son, part of a family, a brother, a co-worker, and a friend, and – beyond that – maybe even much more. Only one person knew the whole story of his life: The child, the boy, and the man, who lived it. The entirety of his life belonged to him alone…
We do not honor him because his life was perfect, or close to perfect, and we need not even try to pretend that it was. None of our lives are. But his was, by any sacred measure, a real and valuable LIFE!
As we all try to do, he did the best he could with what he was given, one day at a time. He had brains and charm, secrets and shame, a will to survive, great courage, and many challenges. His deepest struggles, and his greatest victories, he took on, and accepted, alone, for many years. I like to think that he often found strength in what we have learned that he loved: His belief in magic, in mystery, in things that none of us really “understand,” but things that could be possible – life in the stars, worlds beyond our own, heroes and heroines and mythical creatures able to conquer all obstacles, in any circumstances…
And a belief that all problems may surely, somehow, some day, be resolved, if we are diligent, determined, hard-working, and hopeful.
I am sure he was all those things, even when his life may have sometimes have been unspeakably difficult, and lonely, and full of anguish.
It has been this man’s great gift to remind me, yet again, that each of our lives inevitably holds within it the possibility of both excruciating pain and of exquisite joy; that every life is truly sacred; that the Universe is full of magic; and that each and every one of us is a blessed part of it all. I am grateful for what I have learned of his life, with all its flaws, all its struggles, all its dreams and accomplishments, all its failures, all its hope, and all of its humanity… What I have learned of his life is enough, for it has given me strength, and courage, and hope.
If we grieve, perhaps it is for the realization that none of us may, now, ever know more about this very unique individual. He guarded himself carefully, and gave to each of us what he was able to share. His gifts, we have learned, were many.
When we look for comfort, let it be in our remembering that every life – however long or brief – is a great, and sacred, and joyous mystery, and that every life, including our own, merits our most profound love, our thoughtful attention, our deepest gratitude, and our greatest honor.”