Friday, April 18, 2008

Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend

We buried our old friend Joel today. I mentioned earlier the family had asked us to sing. I loved the songs they asked us to do, but we had never done them. I was quite nervous which rarely happens these days. I felt like I could hit the notes, but when you're close to the one who died, it makes it very difficult not to get choked up.
Jilda and I practiced for hours last night and felt comfortable singing the songs in our living room, but I can promise you it's harder at the funeral. I spent time today getting centered and when I was centered, I knew I could sing. But when we walked in, I saw a plain wooded coffin built by Joel's son John. It was elegant in its simplicity. Joel was a successful lawyer that came from a very poor family. He did well in life but he never forgot his roots - being buried in a plain pine box was a testament to that fact.
As the funeral got started, I laughed and cried at the stories told about our friend. When it came time for us to sing, we stood up and I started softly strumming. I looked at Joel's wife and and his children and the sadness in their faces almost started the tears, but I thought of Joel and his love of folk music and the way his face lite up whenever we got together and played for him. I got my second wind and we did the songs flawlessly.
One of the preachers repeated a story that Joel loved to tell. He said a family was in deep financial trouble. The husband had lost his job and the wife had been ill and the family was going hungry. He said the local preacher was telling a group of deacons about the family's plight and suggested that they pray for the family. One deacon immediately stood up and walked out of the church. The preacher called after the deacon - "do you not want to pray for the family?" The deacon replied "Pray? Hell, I'm going to buy them some groceries."
I'm going to miss our friend Joel.

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