Today I had the honor of attending a funeral of an Officer that passed; an officer that died not from a gun battle, but from a battle that many lose to – his battle with cancer. I am a firm believer in taking moments to stop and recognize things that happen in our lives, and I am taking a moment here to remember and reflect.
I am not a friend of this family, nor did I know them loosely here in our hometown. However, I did get to meet this officer in my lowest moments, when he was doing his job to support a family in crisis. Although I could not have picked his face out of a crowd, I have a very specific visual of this officer – it is of the letters of his last name stitched to his uniform. In the weeks and days following my husband’s accident, I met hundreds of officers, and there are many that I cannot recall. But there are some that have imprinted a moment with me, and this Officer was one of them.
I don’t remember the day, the place or the situation of this meeting, but I remember the feeling, and the ability to make me feel kindness. I remember that name, in stark white letters on his uniform, and I remember feeling okay, and that his kindness was real. I remember feeling like I was safe, and that with the other officers around me, I would be okay.
Today at his memorial service, I walked in under the flag flying high above us suspended from the ladder of a local fire truck. As we approached the door, the officers standing vigil changed guard, and we paused to glimpse a moment of pageantry and honor that is giving to those in law enforcement. We greeted friends and officers alike, and went to stand before the man whose honor we were there to give thanks to.
As we sat and watch the uniforms pour in, I remembered the other times we have sat in these seats, at our weekly worship, and felt joy and comfort in the words. I wondered how I would feel today as we mourned the loss of a great man.
A memorial is a remembrance, a moment to recollect the deeds and moments of a lifetime. It quickly became apparent that the lifetime we were remembering was one of joy, graciousness, full of family love and love for his God. This man gave his life up to bringing joy to others, finding moments and time to make others see the joy and the good, and to support and love his family and friends while serving his community. Even with a terminal diagnosis, the unwavering stories of his joy never changed, and he lived his last days focused on living, not dying.
It is with that “living like you are dying” theme that I leave you with today. We can choose to worry and be pained by our experiences; we can choose to live with those experiences and not let them pull us under. Living with cancer, a brain injury, dementia, serious injury – all of these incredibly difficult medical issues can bring us to our knees if we let them. Trying to see the path of light, a path of change, or a path forward may be hard, but it isn’t impossible. It is just often colored by the pain and fear of the moments that we are living in.
Today I will refocus my attempts to live in the moments, to give like there is no tomorrow, and to love those around me without restraint.
To live like my time is limited. To love those that need to know how much they mean to me.