This past Saturday, I attended the funeral of a man I wish I’d known better. He was the father of a very dear friend of mine, and though I’d known him for many years, I’d only had the pleasure of actually visiting with him on very few occasions. Most of what I knew about him came from funny stories and anecdotes my friend shared with me over the years, and through the appraisal of that same friend’s excellent character, which I think says a lot about the loving way he was raised.
As I sat in the cushioned chair at the back of the chapel, listening to fond memories shared by the friends and family of the departed, I realized something. I’ve never been to a funeral and thought, “I wish I’d known this person less.” Instead, I always feel a deep sense of regret over the many missed opportunities to get to know that person better while I still had the chance.
I think that’s why I actually like funerals. Don’t get me wrong; I hate the reason we’re all there. I don’t do particularly well with goodbyes, and I’m an enormous crybaby. (If this commercial makes me tear up, you can imagine what a moving tribute at a funeral does to me.) But even as I sit there, dabbing at my eyes and trying (unsuccessfully) to blow my nose in as unobtrusive a manner as possible, I feel comforted by the fact that we all live on in someone’s memory.
At this funeral on Saturday, one of the tribute speakers quoted Terry Pratchett, saying, “Do you know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?”
I love that idea.
So here’s my resolution. It’s late for the New Year, I know, but it’s sort of an expansion on the resolution I already made for 2016. I want to make more memories with the people I love. And I want to get to know the people that they love a little better. When I meet someone at a party or a coffee shop, I want to talk to them about deeper things, and find out what makes them happy. And then I’ll remember them, and maybe they’ll remember me, and we can all make each other a little bit immortal.