I went to a funeral today. One of best friends of almost 20 years lost her father. Suddenly. And too young. Even though she and I have been friends for so long and grew up two streets away from each other, I didn’t know her father well. But, I didn’t attend the funeral because of my own grief; I went because of my friend’s grief. I went because my heart is broken for her and I could feel her hurt. I went because it was the right thing to do. I went to show respect to the man who raised my friend.
Upon walking into the funeral home I caught a glimpse of my dear friend out of the corner of my eye. We shared a hug I’d been dying to share with her for the last five days. Then she said, “I need you to help with the girls.” She has two little girls, one is almost three years of age and the other is just one. What an honor! How many friends do you have who are comfortable enough with your friendship to not feel the need to “host” when you’re around, but will cry on your shoulder and then tell you what they need you to go do? She knew she could count on me, and our other good friend, to do whatever it was she needed.
The ceremony began by singing, “We Shall Gather By the River” and I imagine most of the guests thought about Heaven or baptisms from the Bible as they were singing; however, when we finished singing we were told that was the song this man would sing in the morning to let his three daughters know it was time to meet at the car and leave for school, or church, or wherever else they were goin. This was the “time to go” anthem during his life, and the “time to go” anthem today as well.
He was described by a friend today as, “the professional daddy to little girls” and it was said that loving his wife, his daughter, and his seven grandkids was his “life’s mission”. It was his work. These words, and the many others, used to describe this man were humbling. It was said that he taught his daughters and those around them about life and love through his life. He didn’t only tell his girls how much he loved them; he showed them. He didn’t only tell his wife he’d always take care of her; he actually cared for her day in and day out. He didn’t only tell his grandkids how great toy trains were; he sat on the floor with them and played together. He lived his life as a good man and he showed by example how to love fully and whole heartedly.
That’s my friend, too. She is so special to me. She’s type-A to the point of exhaustion, but we all find it humorous. She never does anything half-heartedly. She commits 100% and only does what she knows she’ll be successful at. She is kind, forgiving and generous in her friendships and in her relationships. She married a man with a heart of gold that she trusts will love her until her last day. After what I learned about her father today, I realize that my sweet friend is not this amazing by accident. She was raised by a man who stood 6 feet, 7 inches tall and loved his little girl with all 6 feet, 7 inches of his being. She was raised by a gentle giant.
I know the pain of a loss like this can take years to overcome, but I hope she’ll realize how lucky she is to have had such a good man as her daddy. Friend, I love you & I’m here for you. Muah!