Before Sunday, I hadn’t been to a funeral in many years.
Which is a good thing, of course. I had a string of relatives die, starting late in high school through a few years after college, but that was more than 10 years ago. I’ve been exceedingly lucky since then.
But last week one of my close friends’ father-in-law passed away, and so I found myself in an enormous synagogue Sunday morning, surrounded by about 600 people in the largest funeral I’d ever attended.
Of course it’s cliche to say funerals make you think, but as I sat there getting emotional about a man I didn’t know well (but who from all accounts was a wonderful person), there were a few things I kept thinking about.
For one, seeing the hundreds of people there to honor him, I thought about the horribly cruel irony of a person being most appreciated and loved on the day they can’t see it and appreciate it.
I also thought about the major change I made in my own life last year, and how glad I was that instead of continuing to be unhappy, I decided to do something about it. Haven’t regretted it since.
I thought about the finality of death, and how my thoughts have changed on it. When I was younger, I believed in reincarnation, and an afterlife. Now? I’m not so sure.
Finally I thought about the man who we were all talking about Sunday. Did he die with no regrets? Did he live his life to the fullest, and accomplish what he wanted to do? If he could’ve sat up from the casket and looked at the assembled masses, what would he say?
Later, as we sat around the man’s house, friends and relatives were telling stories. They were laughing and smiling, enjoying the memories of a life they were lucky enough to be a part of.
And really, that’s why funerals don’t bother me too much. Yes, they’re a mourning of a death.
But they’re also a celebration of a life. And that’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.
(Skip to 3:31 here; this is the song I want played at my funeral, in case, you know, any of you are in a position to do anything about it at that time)
**So it’s been a while since I’ve written about my quixotic quest to one day run a marathon. I started running seriously while I still lived in Florida last spring, and after some time off when I first moved to NYC (it just got lost in the shuffle, frankly), I’ve been picking it up more and more the last month or so.
Monday was a big day; I hit a new milestone. I ran more than three miles for the first time; 3.15, to be exact.
May not sound like much to you “real” runners out there, but it was exciting for me. 23 more miles to go, and I’ll be ready for a marathon.
Damn, it felt good.
**The great New York Times writer Dan Barry wrote this beautiful piece in the Times the other day that I wanted to share. It’s about a black church in Mass. that was burned down on the night Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, that has now been rebuilt better than ever.
This is how you stop evil from winning. You rebuild, and dare them to do it again.