I just got out of one of the only memorial services that I can truly say this about: I hope I remember it for a lifetime.
Friends, neighbors, colleagues, former students, family members, friends who have known him for so long that they now qualify as family members, even his family physician. They came up to speak to the beyond-packed sanctuary and share their remembrances of Bob, and the service lasted for two hours solid.
I heard about a man who gave whatever he had on hand to give…to everyone. His family, his friends, his community… basically, he lived a life that so few of us have the courage to live.
Toward the end of the service, Bob’s old friend Mike got up to sing “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds. That song is powerful enough without the context. Mike had previously broken down while trying to speak and was unable to finish. When he stood up to sing, I thought, “Wow. You can do this, Mike.” Shortly after the first chorus he had trouble continuing, and that’s when it happened. First, I heard one lone woman’s voice. Then, like we were all singing a hymn, everyone started singing with Mike. Not all of us knew the words or the tune, but we didn’t leave him all alone up there. He kept singing, all the way to the end of the song, even when it had seemed like he wouldn’t make it through the second verse.
I think that’s the takeaway, from a man who wasn’t even there – but was unmistakably represented in that action:
Keep going, as long as you can. And then start again. Give what you can, even if you don’t know what you’re doing. Give what you can, only if it seems like your soft humming will barely make a difference.