I arrived at the church fifteen minutes before the service began and I was ushered into one of the last remaining seats at the back of the church. The room was full and buzzing with conversation. At the front of the church was a large picture of the man for whom we had all come to pay our respects and say our goodbyes.
There were several familiar faces and many I did not know. Some carried on animated exchanges while others sat and prepared for the tears they knew were coming. The church fell silent and we all rose to greet his wife, his children, his grandchildren and his extended family.
During the service, his children got up to share their memories of their dad and through broken, emotion-soaked voices they gave us another look into the man we all knew and greatly respected. Before they even spoke, I saw the pain in their faces. That same pain had been etched into my skin years ago when I lost my parents, my dad in 2006 and my mom, more recently, in 2014. It is a pain not easily described to those who have not lost a parent.
Although both of my parents were ill leading up to their passing, they both left before I had a chance to say I love you once more because we thought we had more time. This poor family thought they had much more time but their dad died very unexpectedly of a massive heart attack. I sat through the service with dry eyes, because to have cried one tear would have opened floodgates that may not have closed.
I sit now writing this post through the tears that I could not shed on Saturday for fear they would not stop. I think of all the lives he changed for the better. I think of his countless hours spent doing things for those less fortunate. I think of the legacy he left behind for us to follow. And I think of his children who thought they had more time with their dad but never had the chance to tell him “I love you” just one more time.
As someone so astutely pointed out to me on Saturday, we are all given numbers and we never know when ours will be called. Love deeply, laugh abundantly, share your good fortune with those who go without and don’t ever take for granted the moments to tell the people in your life how you feel about them. You never know when their, or your, number will be called.