As I looked among the rows of people in front of me. I was almost the farthest person back. The pain everyone feels controls the atmosphere in the room. Everyone stands as they roll in the casket of a man too young to be in it. The question is always why? What did this person do in his short 25 years to not be able participate in the next 25 years? He should be sprinting up there with same pace he played soccer. Insanely quick with rapid snapping fingers. The faster he ran then the faster he snapped. Just four months ago that’s how he was playing soccer and coaching. As bad and as selfish as it sounds I can’t help but think of people I would rather see us remembering. Or for me, some of them forgotten. Is it wrong to think that? The younger the person is the more people you see at the funeral. It was a friends reunion of sorts. People I haven’t seen for years are there. Good to see them but, not like this. The first speaker clears her throat. The sound of sniffing and a silence that is never wanted is all I can hear. She tells funny stories and you remember your own experiences of him that are unique to you. Laughing along with everyone and also to your own stories. Thinking of the last time you talked to him. Him explaining how he is coaching a handful of teams. How he enjoys it so much. Watching the kids learn and I really felt his passion for his players. He had me convinced.
Each speaker that gets up has their own lessons he taught them. Again it goes through my mind of why are we talking about him when there are so many who have cheated death who shouldn’t have. Now I listen to his close friend talk about his last weeks and how his friends made sure to include him in all they did. Picking him up and his new acquired wheel chair to where ever they were going. Will I have friends and family like that if cancer takes me? You start to realize the person you want to be. And more important questions. How far away from your ideal person are you? Am I going to be as happy and optimistic when im dying? The vision the family creates of the deep talks they had his last week is surreal. His outlook on life and how he feels he was successful in just 25 years. His view of success was based on what he accomplished and how he helped others. It had nothing to do with money, power, or possessions. And everything to do with learning, optimism, and helping others. Having fun no matter what while setting a good example. Having a relationship with friends and family that is so intimate. The closeness that is shared only through a heartbreaking loss. His father is next and he explains how he is struggling. A guy I have known for years starts to cry next to me. My eyes well up and I too have some tears. Im conflicted on if im crying because of the loss or because im thankful for what I have. Its both! Being able to talk to him again is no longer an option. Its overwhelming! A void in our lives that will never be filled. Are we lucky or cursed? Why do you learn so much when you hurt so bad? All these questions with no answers. Everyone knew him in a different way. Some close friends. Some family. Some coworkers. Some teammates. Some young players that he coached. Some old friends that have not been around lately. Some here to support another friend. So everyone will take something different from this experience. But what will everyone learn from him? What did I learn? Learn and live OR live and learn? Or Both? Learn to live life to the fullest. Live life to learn knowledge you could never read in a book. Live and Learn by teaching. With 25 years or 50 years you can still make a difference.
My goal is to live life with the same passion, patience, and persistence he played and coached the beautiful game of soccer. And never give up!
I know that’s what the kids he coached learned