If you don’t know that a lot of famous people have been dying lately, you’re living under a rock. With all these people dying, I’ve been reading a lot of tweets and posts in memoriam. It got me to thinking about what I want to be said about me after I am gone. I hope my eulogy goes something like this:
Dave was the guy you knew would always tell you the truth, and the one who seemed to usually be able to cut through the crap and get down to what a problem was really about. He faced a lot of challenges, especially as he got up to around 50 and then beyond, but he took it in stride and kept going, kept pouring his life into others, and always found a way to see his life as a gift from God.
And his life was a gift to all who knew him, which is the way he always wanted it. And the closer people were to him, the more they respected him. You knew he was the real deal. He didn’t try to be anything he wasn’t and was always honest about who he was, even when it wasn’t pretty.
The older he got, the less he liked to talk about God and the more he preferred just letting God live through his life. He was a perpetual seeker. He was never sure he was where he needed to be, but he knew he couldn’t really be any other place, so he did his best with what he had. He loved God with his whole being, even though he spent a lot of his life wondering whether God existed. And he loved to talk about that ridiculous contradiction, and anything else that would make your head spin.
He loved his girls intensely. He was always there for them. From the time they were small he tried to make sure they heard him say three things constantly – “I love you,” “You’re my girl,” and “I’m sorry.” He had his bad moods and bad days like anybody, but he always accepted responsibility when he knew he had hurt them and was never afraid to admit having been wrong. He treasured and adored them with his entire being.
Speaking of treasuring, he was a faithful and loving husband to his wife of 80 years, Christy. He was so proud of her and loved watching her grow and learn during their lives together, and become more and more who she was. She was his partner, inspiration, encourager, and friend and yes — as gross as it may sound now — his passionate lover, once upon a time. He was never a romantic, and he knew it, and he hated that in himself, but he tried hard to make sure Christy knew how much he loved her. He always knew he would never have gotten nearly as far in life as he did without her. Dave loved Christy more with each passing day and struggled when his illness prevented him from speaking her love language — acts of service. Half of Dave will always be Christy — most of the better half.
The older Dave got, the more he learned how to temper his words, how to be gentle, how to love others. He always wanted to be guilty of loving too much instead of not enough. He tried to err on the side of grace with all people, granting grace and forgiveness to people, thinking well of them, and assuming that even when people hurt him they didn’t mean to.
As hard as he tried sometimes, he could never put down his sword. He had a message — a message of God’s love (and his own love) for all human beings, no matter their race, religion, background, mistakes, sexual orientation, or how hard their hearts had become.
As Dave grew older, he also grew sweeter and gentler. He grew in wisdom and got better and better at discerning when to speak and when to remain silent.
When life called on him to suffer, he did it with dignity and courage. When his disease robbed him even of dignity, he opened up and showed his wounds and humiliation to the world, hoping in some way his suffering could somehow teach, inspire, or encourage someone else. That was always his hope and it was the motivation behind his willingness to share his life — especially his flaws and failures — in such detail with the world.
Dave was a man who, as long as he lived, tried to really live. And that’s what he’d most want us to remember about him. While he lived, he did his best to live. And that’s what I know he wants for each of you who remain. Mourn and do what you must now that he is gone. But above all, LIVE! Dave’s time is over, but your time is now.
That’s my ideal eulogy. Thank God I still have time to live into it and shape it.
What kind of eulogy are you shaping right now by the kind of person you are and the way you live?