Today was one of those days that really makes me sit back and think. We started the day as we ended last night, without power. Tornadoes took their toll on Suffolk, VA, south of us and apparently some micro bursts or something graced our neck of the woods at about the same time. Trees were ripped and shredded and lying on power lines, resulting in the not uncommon for this area, power outage.
Still, some 18 hours after the power went out, it was reestablished and I breathed a sigh of relief. I certainly do not mind, "roughing it" but I had some important obligations to fulfill today and being unable to shower (we are on well water and without electricity we are .... ummm ... without water), would have made me feel kind of grimy. So, I hopped to and got the shower, took care of my morning meeting for work, conducted an interview and headed on to the main focus of my morning.
On Friday, April 25, 2008 as many enjoyed a Friday evening of relaxation or excitement at the end of a work week, a young man, just 25 years old, decided for reasons unknown certainly to me, to take his life. He hung himself and left many wondering what they could have done to have affected a different outcome. He was, by all accounts, a very caring, funny, nice and hard working young man. And he was loved by many. I was asked to play and sing at his funeral.
I get a fair number of requests to provide music at funerals, in fact I had three such requests this week alone. But this was the only one I felt I HAD to fit into my schedule, and so I did. I did not know the young man. But I have children his age and I know the anguish his parents must be feeling. So I played and sang for the celebration of his life which is the funeral.
I found it unusual, and touching at the same time, that his pall bearers all wore black pants, sneakers and white t-shirts with a corsage on the shoulder, and on the back of which was printed, "Rest in Peace Dave, We Love You." And they were his friends, cousins, and siblings...his peers. I guess I knew this would be a bit of a different funeral when I saw a couple of the cars entering the parking lot, whose windows bore painted messages such as "We Love You Dave" and "Rest In Peace Dave H." More typical of a car bearing newlyweds or soccer teams than one carrying the friends and loved ones of the recently departed, and yet, it was touching, somehow.
After the small choir had practiced the songs we would sing for the funeral, I played and sang, as the friends and family of this young man made their way into the church. The song I sang was one my father sang to us at night as he coaxed us into relaxation and eventual slumber.
"Sleep my child and peace attend thee
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee
All through the night.
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and dale in slumber steeping,
I, my loving, bid you keeping,
All through the night."
And the service was a true celebration of his life, with his uncle telling tales, funny ones, that would leave the mourners laughing, as would, he said, have been Dave's wish. He loved to make people laugh. And so we did.
When we sang the final hymn, The Strife Is O'er, I knew that was really the point. Whatever was in this young man's mind when he made his final decision, he was, at last, beyond his personal strife.
And as I drove home, I looked at the destruction caused in just a five minute long blast by mother nature, the brick wall at the Courthouse Circle blown out, the trees mangled, the roofs damaged, and I thought, it really does all happen in the blink of an eye. Dave too made his final choice that changed the world of those who loved him....in the blink of an eye.