Ever since I began telecommuting two years ago, I find myself--more and more--actually wanting to stay home. This pandemic gives me a built-in excuse to avoid activities. This past week an opportunity to attend my grade school friend's viewing came up. Aside from the fact that Jeff and I had only connected via Facebook over the past couple of years, it's a funeral. You're literally gathering because someone else can't be there. Plus, I don't really know his family, his kids, his new wife. I wondered if I should even go.
I missed the viewing the night before--I did have a meeting that I could have gotten out of. I didn't--I attended the meeting. Since I didn't work the day of the last viewing and funeral, I knew I could attend. Still, something was stopping me, causing me to second-guess going.
Then, I logged onto Facebook.
Like most people, I have high school friends all over the globe. Ever since the news of Jeff's passing hit, classmates have offered condolences. On the day of the funeral, two friends mentioned how great a guy Jeff was, how they mourned with the family, and both said they wished they could attend the funeral but both were unable to do so.
That's what changed my mind.
Here I was, fifteen minutes from the funeral home and having nothing else to do during the viewing--I decided to go because of dear friends who could not.
When I entered, the only person I knew was Jeff. I spotted his family members, but they didn't know me. I got in line to pay my respects. That's when I ran into another friend who I had not seen in decades. I'm glad he recognized me because if he and I walked by each other outside on the street, there's no way I'd have recognized him. Derek and I chatted, caught up. I met his wife and we talked about things you talk about when you haven't seen someone for a long time.
Our time came to say good-bye. I met Jeff's wife. She thanked me for my blog post, something I was glad to do. I'm happy so many people enjoyed it. She then said something about how life was not going to be easy without him. When she said that and I saw her standing next the the casket of her husband, it reminded me of my mom and when she said good-bye to her husband and my father. My dad passed away months shy of his fiftieth birthday. It was not easy for my mom, either.
As I left, I ran into a good friend of Jeff's, Brad and his wife. After that, came two more high school friends, one of which attended elementary, jr. high, and high school with Derek, Jeff, and I. We caught up and even though I knew hardly anyone else there, I felt like I was with family, people with shared experiences, memories that span almost half a century.
I couldn't stay for the funeral service--I had a meeting I could not get out of, but I am so glad I went to the viewing. The experience confirmed my belief that humans are social animals and that we need each other--when we celebrate and when we grieve. Thanks to Sean and Travis for changing my mind. Thanks to Derek, Carlene, Ronny, Brad, and most of all, Jeff, for reminding me of how amazing a life I've had because I know so many incredible people.