I was told that speaking at my dad’s burial would be inappropriate. I watched my father take his last breath and our complex relationship was sealed at just under 35 years. That is what is not appropriate. Watching a man slowly kill himself over the years, that is what’s not appropriate. So while some may not agree with me, and never have, I do want to put what’s been in my heart into words. Here is what I prepared for today’s ceremony:

This is from “Walden Pond” by Henry David Thoreau:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear, nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan – like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it, by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”

While my dad’s life changed direction over the years to one that many of us did not recognize, it will only have been lived in vain if those around us do not learn from this loss. When someone leaves, we must learn from their mistakes so our lives can be that much richer. I challenge you to let go of your preconceived notions, to look beyond your normal existence, focus on life and love and the many opportunities this world offers, and give more freely of yourself. Love fully, don’t be so quick to judge, get to know people you might not ordinarily know, learn from your experiences, and do not waste life in depression and self-pity. “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” So I encourage you all to truly live.


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