Emerging from the darkness.

It’s been almost 24 hours since I arrived home from the luncheon that followed Bill’s funeral yesterday and it’s been even longer since the two visitations I attended on Friday. My legs no longer ache and my eyes are no longer red and swollen and my heart feels lighter than it has the past couple of days. I think I handled all of it pretty well. I have pictures from the visitation and from the luncheon after the funeral that add up to about 18 and a half megabytes of data, around 61 pictures, which I will be posting to the site as soon as I figure out the best way to do it. I’m not sure if it would be better to just upload it as one big Zip file or add them into the memorial gallery I already have online.

During the visitations I lent my shoulder to anyone who needed a hug and a moment to cry. I tried to be as upbeat and positive as I could manage and as seemed appropriate considering the circumstances. I surprised myself by managing to avoid breaking down until the very end of the night when I found myself alone in the room in front of Bill’s casket and awash in a flood of good memories. I made it to the parking lot before I gave up and let my sorrow express itself in the relative privacy of my car.

I found it much harder to stay strong during the funeral the next day. Natalie called me early before we left to ask if I might step forward and say a few words when the time came. I wasn’t obligated to, but if I thought I could handle the task the family would love to have me speak. I’d been thinking about it for the last few days already and so I sat down at my word processor and typed up something that I hoped would be appropriate and short enough that I could get through it before I lost all composure. For those who weren’t able to attend the funeral I’d like to share what I wrote with you here:

    I’ve been thinking for the past few days on what I would say about Bill when the time came. On what words I might use to summarize what he meant to me. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. The problem isn’t with coming up with something to say, but how to keep it to a reasonable length.

    How do you compress 20 years of friendship into just a few words? How do you choose which good memories to touch upon when there are so many you could write a small novel? How do you express the loss that you feel when you are close to being consumed by it? For many of us here it would take days to do and we still wouldn’t feel we had covered everything we love about Bill.

    Bill stuck with me when other friends would not. He was there when I was at my worst and he helped me to become a better person than I was. Not through any overt effort on his part, but by being a friend and doing the things a true friend should. This is probably the greatest gift I could ever have gotten from him. I love Bill like a brother. The loss I feel in his passing is too great to put into words.

6 thoughts on “Emerging from the darkness.

  1. That was beautiful, Les. Indeed, compressing twenty years down to a handful of words is nigh-impossible, but you succeeded.

  2. I was one of those who needed a hug and a shoulder on Friday.

    You related some great stories about Bill that brought smiles, however unwilling the heart was, to people’s faces. And that, my friend Les, was the most amazing and caring thing you could have done that night. Thank you for that. I owe ya some hugs. smile

  3. That is truly beautiful, Les.  Very profound, and even though short, spoke volumes.  I’m just so sorry life is so unfair and indiscriminate.  You are so blessed to have had a friend like Bill; but you already know that.  I want to thank you for sharing all that you have here about him.  Even though I did not know him, through your words, his life and who he was has touched me.  Thank you for that.

  4. I had hoped to meet Bill’s friends on Saturday, but I didn’t.  He was my cousin, and we were beginning a new friendship.  I love and miss him.  My heart aches.  He was too young and so ready for new beginnings. 

    I remember all of us as children, my sister and brother, Bill, Kirk, Natalie, all older than me…Now, we were adults, both through divorce, single, trying to figure out what to do next…

    I ask WHY????? I know it won’t be answered how I want it.  Bill was a wonderful man.

    I love you Bill.

    Love Always,
    Your Cousin Jane

  5. Dear Les,
      Words can’t express the way i feel about your wonderful tribute to Bill. I never had the chance to meet his dear friends that meant so much to him. He was my older cousin, but more than that he was my friend. My mother (Bill’s Aunt) raised Bill for nearly 13 years, he used to joke about changing my diapers when i was a baby. Even though he was a major part of my childhood, I really wasnt able to connect with him untill myself became an adult. He had just recently connected with family members, and I was one of them. He spent New Years (2003)with us here in Florida, he had a great time.(though his stomach didnt thank us the next morning)Before he left to drive back to Michigan we shared a night at the movies together, I bickered the whole way home about how he could’nt stop commenting on the film. How I would give to have another movie moment with him, and let him chatterbox the whole 2 hour duration. i will miss my cousin, my friend, and will love him always. Thank you agian for your memories, your laughter and your love to Bill.

  6. Thank you, everyone, for the kind words. I have an immense amount of sympathy for those family members of Bill’s that only recently started to reconnect with him. It’s unfair that you should just start to get to know him again after so many years only to lose him once more forever. I wish I could share with you the 20 years of memories I have of time with Bill. There won’t be a day that goes by that I won’t feel the loss of his presence in my life.

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