Posted: August 13, 2014
This morning I attended a funeral for my neighbor’s first husband. I was surprised that many adults and children were wearing superman t-shirts. I also noticed a girl wearing a red cape. I had been dreading the event since I had heard about his death last week. He was only 52 years old and left behind a beloved son in college. He died suddenly of a heart attack.
As I look back at the service, I feel uplifted. I knew there was deep grief and loss. My friend and their son were broken open. But the longer I listened to people speak about his life; I knew it wasn’t about grief. It was about something else entirely… It was about living a life of heroic proportions.
I heard the story of a man who wanted to live his life like a super hero. He was described as being, “ready!” He was “ready” to help, to listen, and to share everything with everyone. He was a connector with friends everywhere. My friend described him as, “living with his heart on the outside.” It was a profound description from a pathologist.
He gave everything away including his love, time and money. He valued being, “good” and doing “good.” His friends and family described him as always striving to do the right thing. He wasn’t portrayed as a saint. There were lots of stories about his younger days tearing up St. Paul with his friends. His parents spent many nights waiting up for him to come home.
His life was devoted to his family. He called his mother every day… remarkable! He was a good father and friend. The pastor described, “Living the dash!” I have never heard the expression before. He said what counts is what happens after we start the race at birth. It’s everything in between, before our death.
Then he described his friend of 16 years and his love affair with superman. And, the comic store he built. He said it was all about good and evil with good always prevailing. Perhaps he took to heart all of those lessons he learned at the Catholic all-boys school across the field from my Catholic all-girls high school in St. Paul.
He fell in love with the world. He followed the wild road of the saints and mystics who believed in the grand and glorious dream of making this world a better place. It’s not a long forgotten dream. It is the possibility that lies within each one of us.
And, then I remembered as I left the service the year that my daughter wore her Superman costume for Halloween when she was in first grade. Her best friend was a boy and chose the same costume. All of her girlfriends wanted to be a fairy princess, but she always had her own ideas. She knew that she wanted to fly.
Maybe this is what I will take away from the funeral… We are all called to fly!