I have to go and do something very tough today: pay my final respects to someone who was a good, decent man, and my friend for almost twenty years. It's not my dad, and pardon me for not being more specific, but I'd rather not receive any media attention or "I'm glad So-and-So died" e-mails.
I don't like funerals. I've been to too many, I guess; lost too many people that I've loved. If the contents of my will are respected, and they had better be, there won't be one for me when it's my time. No grave or memorial, either. I'd rather those who care to remember me only have memories of me while I was alive. But I go to funerals, because other people I love think they're important, and if you cared for the deceased, you really can't not go.
I have different ways of paying my respects. I plant a tree in a park every year for my grandmother on her birthday, and I've worn her birthstone instead of my own since she passed away. I talk to her sometimes when I'm alone, because as irrational as it sounds, I feel that she's out there somewhere, listening. I tell her stories and read her poems to my children, who never met her, and show them her pictures. It took me a long time to accept her death, but once I had grieved enough, I began trying to celebrate the things she loved rather than suffer over her loss. That way I think she lives on as a part of my life.
Trees are also a reminder of my friend, who loved gardening and in particular bonsai trees. At one point he had a half dozen he had lovingly cultivated over a period of many years, and would show them off like a proud papa. I've given bonsai trees as gifts to friends, but they were purchased, and I've never tried cultivating them myself. He told me a lot of the secrets of how to do them, so I think I'll start one this year with the kids. It'll be a constant reminder of what I want to remember: some of the beauty he brought into my life and the world.
I'll be back on Monday. Have a good weekend