September 19, 2011

The Motley Crew...and Grief

Ever been to a memorial service that felt more like a party? Where there seems to be more laughter, celebration, and reconnection than mourning?

I was at one of those this weekend. My friend, Levi, finally lost his three-year, valiant battle with cancer a few weeks ago. Cancer is one of those words that cuts me to my core. I hate it. HATE it. And, although I use the word, “Hate” more than I should in my vernacular, I don’t honestly HATE things or people. I strongly dislike them, but I don’t hate them. Except this. I HATE cancer. With everything in me. It’s wrong. It’s cruel.

I digress.

Levi’s memorial was a party. In fact, his family called it a “Celebration of Life,” and that’s exactly what it was. He collected people like others collect coins or stamps. The group that showed up to his celebration was eclectic – we had members of the small-town where he grew up, and friends from his time living in a commune. You had people who could be considered as part of the “fringe” of society talking and laughing with church elders and town leaders. In truth, though, it was a testament of who he was.

Levi was odd. Even his brother, during the sharing time, described him as such. He was one of those guys who had a hard time finding his place in life when he was younger; which allowed him, as an adult, to love and accept everyone around him. In that acceptance, he collected a group that was as ragtag and odd as he was.

It was utterly fantastic, seeing who all came out to laugh, cry, and mourn with each other. To see who loved this man deeply, and who – through being loved by him in return – were changed. There were tears and moments of deep sorrow, but there were also shouts of laughter and recollections of deep joy. This club, this “Friends of Levi” club, is one to which I am proud to hold membership. I just couldn’t help but think how much HE would’ve enjoyed the other night, being surrounded by those who love him and who love those whom he loved.

I spoke earlier about death being a severe mercy, and that this road we’re on hurts. Finding mercy gives us strength to continue to walk this path of grief and mourning. I found the other night, at a pot-luck filled with an motley crew of people, sharing our love, sharing our grief, mourning, and even laughing together gave us a bit more strength to continue this journey.

It’s not easy. Loving well and losing that loved one never is. But, we have each other to lean on and give support through this, and I think…in his own, odd, collector, wise way…Levi made sure we did.


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