Time is ours; spend it wiselySAM COOK: It was the best kind of memorial service, full of tears and laughter and stories. Tragic as the reason for the occasion was, it allowed those of us who had lost a friend to experience the full range of emotions we needed to feel.
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
It was the best kind of memorial service, full of tears and laughter and stories. Tragic as the reason for the occasion was, it allowed those of us who had lost a friend to experience the full range of emotions we needed to feel.
I could tell it had that kind of potential when I walked in and greeted a man I know.
“Give me a hug,” the big guy said. “It’s been a tough week.”
And I gave him a good squeeze. After the service, we laughed as he told me a story about camping in the Apostle Islands with the friend we had lost.
It is easier to have a good memorial service for a good person, and the friend we lost was among the best. Those of us gathered sat shoulder-to-shoulder in the packed room, listening to the eulogies. The anecdotes and stories painted a picture of a fine man who possessed just as many idiosyncrasies as the rest of us.
I found myself wishing, as I have at the memorial services of many others, that somehow I had known this man better. I had known him professionally, but, hearing those stories, I wished I had seen him with his family, had spent a few nights under the stars or just sitting on the shore of Lake Superior with him. I would like to have known, firsthand, something of the traits that those who paid him tribute knew.
It seems to me that’s often the case. We know mostly facets of another person’s life. Rarely, except in the tightest of friendships, do we know the whole person. Most of us are pretty diverse creatures.
And sitting among so many who knew and respected our friend, I came to know more than I had imagined him to be.
A good funeral does something else, too. It refocuses you on what’s important in life. A good friend of mine and I were talking at the reception after the service. He said something that I suppose many of us were feeling, but already he had distilled it to its core.
“What this makes me realize,” he said, “is that I want to spend more time with the people I love.”
Time is all we have, ultimately. And, perhaps more than we realize, we get to choose how we spend it. We can spend it making money. We can spend it watching television. We can spend it on Facebook.
Or we can spend it on each other, the ones who matter.
Another friend of mine taught me something several years ago, accidentally maybe. He said our calendars reflect our priorities. If we put something in our calendar, we are assigning it as a priority in our lives. I think about that a lot when I’m deciding whether to add something to my life. And I realize that every time I don’t put something unnecessary on my calendar, I’m leaving time open to spend with those I value most.
We’re making choices, all the time, about our priorities. Sometimes, it takes a somber occasion to drive that home again.
Sam Cook is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @samcookoutdoors.