Monday was...an experience. I haven't attended an unusual amount funerals in my life. But this was the first time I've ever been asked to participate in one. For those few of you who read my blogs and don't know, a friend and fellow cast member(if former) of CRF was hit by a drunk-driver earlier this month. Lisa Smith was certainly dedicated to our "little" faire as well as being a devoted officer of the law and veteran. We held her funeral yesterday in an appropriate miserable afternoon at the National Cemetary in Salisbury for the graveside service. Our friend (my roommate) Doug is a Reverend in the Universal Light Church and led a very moving and respectful service. I was given the task of the opening prayer. I struggled to come up with something. It may come to some shock to you, but rennies are not typically whitebread Christians. I, too, was caught completely unawares by this discovery. I am, however, a Christian. So I knew my prayer would be a true prayer to the God I believe to be the One and True variety, but I also knew that I was being asked to open not for myself, but for everyone there celebrating the life and mourning the loss of our friend. I picked "Sgt. Mackenzie" as the "bulk" of my prayer. "Sgt. Mackenzie" is a song written and sung in a true Scots dialect made famous most recently as part of the movie We Were Soldiers(why does Blogger lack underlines?!). I was more than a little nervous. I love to sing. Really. But I've grown very comfortable as a harmonic singer, rather than melodic. To the musically untermed, I mean I'm used to singing as part of a group, adding to someone else's lead. My vocal talents aren't unimpressive, but it's been almost two decades since I had any real training and many years since I did any regular singing. But I spent two days memorizing the song as best I could. I would have still preferred to have a headphone in an ear playing the song in my head as I sang along, but everyone says I did a good job with it. The funeral was recorded, so I'll have to watch to see.
And before anyone freaks about it, Lisa made a great number of friends in a great number of places. Many of these dear friends weren't able to attend because of distance and time. They are no less deserving of the chance to witness our send of than anyone who was able to attend.
I finished with a few words of my own, asking that God would hold us close to His heart and allow us to weep in His comforting arms and then move us to live and revel in the joy of our memories and the wonder of our world that we still remain in. I also quoted a verse from Revelations talking about how in the end, when God's Kingdom comes down from Heaven, there will be no more tears or pain. Our friend Jeff sang "Parting Glass" to tears. Doug quoted a few passages of scripture and spoke a touching eulogy. Lani sang and cried her way through "Merry Meet, Merry Part" on behalf of our dear friend and former queen Lolly Foy, who also loved Lisa.
To close it all off, Chris pull out all the stops for the veterans honors. He called two live buglers to play "Echo Taps," which was gorgeous. And the "big finish" was a six man flag fold with a three flag presentation. Performed with nearly perfect grace by the Royal Guard cadets. In Chris' words, "they learned in three hours what I went to school for two weeks to learn." The six man flag folding is a carefully coreographed fold with very precisely timed and executed movements. And the kids pulled it off beautifully. Even Wes put away his usual attire to dress in the red, black, and gold of the Royal Guard Company "E." I opted for my kilt with my black dress shirt and jacket and black tie. Black leather boots, belts, pouches and my grey fedora. I felt it an appropriate combination. Several people told me that Lisa would have been pleased to see me so "cleaned up" and that touched me.
Afterwards we all convened at Phil's for a much needed unwind and remembrance. There was a little drinking and a little eating, but mostly it was just a much needed and unspoken need to just be there with each other. To remember, to laugh, to joke. To affirm that we still live, and that while we still can, we must make our lives as full and rich as we can. And one of the best ways to do that is to enjoy the company of our friends and (man, I'm getting old) encourage the Next generation to do the same. "Our" kids did a fantastic job. From start to finish, they kept their composure. And afterwards, they thanked and were thanked by the other attendees of the funeral service and then just Lived like only youth can. It was a very moving day, all around.
ad amiculus absentia