Sunday, August 31, 2008

Celebration of Life

Saturday was David’s “Celebration of Life” ceremony. It was a beautiful tribute to a beautiful man. Hundreds of people turned out. The love and support was amazing. Much of the night was so surreal, as hundreds of people walked past offering kind words and consolations. There were moments where I felt like I was in a fog. Some sort of nightmare where I just couldn’t wake up. How could I be here…at my husbands’ memorial? How could this be happening? And at those moments I would start to shake. Like the night David died. I know this is when I’m going into shock again. Like I did that night. I start to breath shallow, and I get extremely light headed and a cold chills me to the core.

I tend not to even notice that this is happening until someone says something. Like last night, an old friend came up and asked innocuously…are you breathing? And I realized. I wasn’t. I don’t know if he noticed a change in me or not. But I wasn’t doing well at that moment. And as I looked at my hands. I was shaking all over. And I was so cold. But the moment passed and I started to take slow deep breaths. But I get this way sometimes now. When I think about that night. Or I think about my future without David. Or my future at all. And I think I tend to sometimes just start to shut down. But I pulled myself back together. And the moment passed.

It was good to see so many people from our journey through life thus far. At moments I was touched by the words of comfort people had, others were inconsolable…mourning the loss of David, and others were speechless. But all were kind, loving and compassionate. Many didn’t know what to say. But what can you say? He was too young. Yes. But what David crammed into that 37 years, many don’t do in an entire lifetime. And his “celebration” was so fitting. The live butterflies exhibit, full of peace and serenity. A symbol of life and metamorphosis for David.

The glass “guest book” was perfect as well and now is a permanent symbol of all the love and support that’s surrounding us and hopefully will continue to surround us in the dark days ahead. David had originally intended us to make a piece, but as he went quickly…there just wasn’t the time. But there never is. Not to do everything. But I went to a gallery and found this piece as I walked in the front door…and I knew this was it. It was perfect. The base is three figures; symbolic of David, Alec and Me. And the glass basin, is a fused glass piece made by a local artist who is too a warrior in the battle against Cancer. And as it was just waiting for us…for this celebration…I knew David was smiling. Because although it wasn’t quite what he had envisioned…it had the essence.

The “Sweets” that David had selected were a hit as well. He had been so specific. Brownies. Fudgy. No nuts…No icing. I can’t tell you how many times David bemoaned a perfect brownie ruined by those dastardly nuts. So…fudgy brownies it was. Also, there were root beer floats of course. David was a connoisseur of Root beer and that was the first thing he requested for his celebration. And then there was cake, a coffee bar, and a chocolate fountain. David always did love his sweets!

The dessert stations were spread through the streets of Old Milwaukee in the museum. And as I roamed the cobbled pathways, I was warmed by all the love. People were gathered in little clusters. Some laughing, some shedding tears. But all were sharing stories of David. Recounting little moments of his life. And it was beautiful. Because so many people were there that night, from so many different paths of his journey through life.

David’s celebration was perfect. Or as perfect as a night can be when you are celebrating the life of your beloved. But I could feel David’s smiling face and the joy from bringing all of those people from his life together in one room. To celebrate him. He wanted us to remember his life and who he was. The man and his amazing capacity for love and life. He understood that people would mourn his death, but he didn’t want to be remembered how he died. He didn’t want to be remembered in death, he wanted to be remembered how he lived. How he choose life over death, all the way up to the very end.


At September 01, 2008 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I think of Saturday evening I will always be touched that every square inch of that museum space was filled with love and admiration for a remarkable man.

I'm also glad we got a chance to talk even if it was for those few brief moments and as I silently watched you interact with people I was able to witness the strength you have shown through your blog in person.

I am honored to have been part of that evening and I am honored to have known David.

Olga Cruz

At September 02, 2008 9:12 AM, Blogger Satine said...

John brought back the DVD from the ceremony and we watched it together last night--we were both moved. He believes although it was an unusual way to "meet" someone, that he felt a certain presence and felt a familiarity when meeting him throughout the evening. I'm glad he could be there for both of us. He did tell me the turnout was huge and that the service was beautiful. I believe Dave would have been proud of how it turned out.


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