Let Freedom Ring

Brandon was scheduled to deliver a eulogy later in the program and it seemed he wanted some time to collect himself. About a half hour later when he did take to the podium, I was overwhelmingly impressed with his strength, endurance and sense of duty to David. It would have been easy to bail out and say the task was too daunting. Brandon held it together and delivered a message of true loss, painting a picture of a partner that could never be replaced and one that loved and was loved by everyone he encountered. As he spoke and choked back emotion, I watched tears streaming down the face of Brandon’s mother. Her sense of pride was apparent and her sense of pain was as well. Only David’s parents could have had heavier hearts than she at that moment as she watched her child take steps into manhood while suffering great pain. I’d never met Brandon before but I was so very proud of him.

David’s immediate family was possibly the classiest clan I have ever encountered. Truly this was a family in great sorrow suffering a great loss and his many siblings and cousins stood tall and strong as tears poured down their cheeks; his parents were stoic and resolved. I’ve never seen such dignity and pride in the face of great duress — hearts that were breaking. David was the kind of boy who filled the room. His personality and fun-loving ways were like the class rascal who always makes the teacher hide a smile as she is disciplining him. A few of David’s former teachers were there and said just that. We all know or have known such a character in our lives and recall their charm. The party always started when David arrived which means those that barely knew him were in some way, attached. Real personalities like David’s leave such a hole where they once stood. One of his friends mentioned that his eyes always disappeared when he smiled that huge smile of his. So graphic was this memory that a collective audible gasp could be heard throughout the church as that was said. A gasp made up of the simultaneous realization of how great the loss and how accurate such an observation of this boy’s transparent sincerity was.

My daughters and their circle of friends provided a quiet spectacle for me as well. It’s been almost eight years since I had seen some of them. I found it ironic how their looks had certainly changed but the children within were all the same. There were the dramatic ones, the analytical ones, the sensitive ones, the open ones, the closed ones; all collectively representing a time capsule for me. Their conversations sounded like the same ones that would float upstairs during the sleepovers in front of our fireplace so many years ago. Some things never change. Never.

The national anthem of Guatemala was played as David’s family had immigrated to the United States when he was six. The American National anthem was played as well and both were stirring renditions. The family held their hands over their hearts through both. David’s youth pastor spoke. His sister sang a song he loved. His uncles harmonized another song. There were more eulogies from friends. Each of these dramas was played out with an interpreter quietly making everything clear to the mixed crowd. His ability to be integral yet invisible was commendable as well. His sensitivity to the moment was born of pure respect.

There had been an interesting moment that even preceded all of these. When my family first got the call about the tragedy, I had been the one to answer the phone. The caller related the message and then added that if we attend any of the events, the family asked that we make no comment to any news people either for or against the war. The service is about David and not about politics. I said we would comply and shook my head as I hung up the phone. Even small town families suffering great loss have to worry about “spin control” these days. Incredible.

There were other significant moments. I saw teachers that were single and in their twenties before that are now in their thirties with families. I would guess they would probably be more sympathetic to me now if I lamented about how difficult it is to sell nine boxes of fund-raising candy for three daughters or if I asked them to consider letting the girls do one collective science fair project as opposed to three individual ones. But that’s all water under the bridge. This day was about the loss of a young man who meant a lot to a lot of people and all of the other earthly distractions seemed so very insignificant at the moment (which they really always are).

Page 2 of 3 | Previous page | Next page

Related posts:

  1. The Boys Of Summer
  2. Give Of Yourself
  3. Choose Your Moment
  4. The Measure Of A Man (Or A Woman)
  5. The Hands Of Time
  • Columns
  • Departments