Five Years (A Eulogy)

Today was my Dad’s funeral, he was 59 years old. I chose not to read these words aloud at the service (for several reasons), but I’m posting them here as my way of sending them out into the universe. Friends, thank you for reading. ♥️

Dad and I haven’t spoken in five years. That is sad, yes, but I loved him, and he loved me. Of those facts, I have no doubt.

In our family, when we hurt each other, we retreat to our corners and stay there, often for years. That’s something I believe we can change, if we want to.

Grief is hard enough without adding difficult truth to the mix. But my dad taught me to speak the truth. He was, above all, a man of integrity. The kind of man who became a union rep, then threw a fit when the employee he was representing turned out to be a liar. I won’t cover for that slippery sonofabitch, my Dad said, outraged at the thought.

His empathy was powerful. He liked to comfort people when they were suffering. He loved music. When I was feeling blue as a teenager, he’d put on some sad music, cover me with a blanket, and slip away to give me some space. He loved gaming, and he smoked weed in the garage when he thought we weren’t looking, and he spent long hours talking on the phone with his friends at night.

My dad was, I sometimes thought, a teenager trapped in an adult body. The boy who never grew up. Eternally young. And that’s why I was so shocked to learn that he had died. And it feels unfair that he is gone, so soon. Our five years of silence will become ten, and twenty, and forever.

Adults can forgive, I think. We understand that humans are kaleidoscopes of complexity, and that beneath all those beautiful, ugly, and bizarre, facets there exists something holy and redeemable.

Ray A——— was a loving, funny, and gentle man. He loved his wife, M—. He raised two daughters. He also struggled, at times, against a disease that he couldn’t control. All those things are true. The light and the dark. We do the best we can. Sometimes it’s enough to hold us together, and sometimes we need to love one another from afar. To build good lives, and to try to become better people before the clock runs out.

If you’re here today, at this service, I know that you saw the goodness in Ray, as I did. Those moments when the storm clouds parted and the light inside him became visible. So blinding and beautiful were those glimpses that we waited for them, and we watched for them, and we believed in them, we believed in him, and we danced with Ray in the sun, whenever it shined, for as long as we could.

He will be missed, and never forgotten.

Thank You.

a pair of cowboy boots, a black western hat, and a bronze urn, all sitting on an altar

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