My next door neighbor passed away on Valentine's Day. He was 31. He left behind a widow, 29, who is left to piece together her life and her path. I came home from work that day to police cars and fire trucks - not exactly a rare occurrence on Ruckle St. It was shocking and surreal. The surrealism continues as today I stared at an urn full of the the ashes of the great big guy who spent 20 minutes digging me out of the ice last week, not caring that he was wearing his business suit.
The service was tonight and while it was a memorial, the importance of 'the celebration of life' was insisted upon. Everyone was asked to write down 'a rose', or a memory of him, whether it was funny, heart felt, sad. The idea being that all our memories collectively would be a metaphor for the petals of a rose. We were promised that by the end of the service we would all walk away knowing him - and each other - more than anyone could possibly imagine. The service opened with an goose bump raising set from his wife's jazz band which we'd gone to see last June and a close friend who comically and compassionately mc'd throughout. Tears from sadness and laughter were there. It was... uplifting. His beautiful wife stood proud and strong and possessed an unbelievable inner strength to lead us all through a poetry exercise where the audience refrain was remember me when as she walked us through a montage of her late husband's likes, dislikes, passions and peeves. She then encouraged everyone to stand to share their memories and stories. More laughter. More tears. Love. She was awe-inspiring. Super-human. Humbling. Admittedly, we went into it with some reservation as neighbors and friend, we were still outsiders - or so we thought. By the end of the service however, we were all neighbors and friends. There were no lines.
This week has been eye-opening, this night beautiful and inspiring. Take from it what you will and just remember there are no guarantees. Cherish every day. Love your friends and your neighbors and leave no one alone. Take care of you and everyone around you because that's what we're here for.
That is all.