In light of what I have been writing about for the last week, it would only be fitting to share with you the conclusion of this small yet large chapter in my life and try to find a positive or two to bring us full circle.
I lost my Uncle Jim last week to age, an accident and Parkinson’s Disease and it prompted a lot of thought on my part, especially where my father is concerned and his own battle against the disease.
The funeral was Aug. 7 and you may think it impossible to find a positive in the loss of a loved one, but as some of you may know, I do TRY to find the positive in life. I often talk about life lessons and even under these circumstances I was able to do that — at least I think I was.
The death of a loved one is never an easy thing to deal with, but if we want them to truly live on it becomes necessary to not focus on the loss but on the many things they brought to our lives. This was evidenced not only through the people who attended, almost all of whom played a part in my life large or small and were a huge positive, but also through the memories shared.
Immortality is possible, not because it literally means you live forever but that you live on forever. And there is a difference.
Living forever and just not expiring would be no big feat if it were possible as it doesn’t mean that never-ending life contributed to the lives of others, merely that your existence is infinite. But living on forever, that is something totally different and I do believe my uncle will do just that.
There is a comfort, at least for me, in the knowledge that Jim had such a positive impact and place in so many people’s lives. The stories of the times he extended a hand to someone in need or offered a sympathetic ear were too many to list or name here.
Family and friends all reflected, sometimes even sharing a laugh in the midst of loss, and it’s that remembrance that allows any of us to remain immortal as it is possible to continue to live in the hearts and minds of those we touched.
For his kindness, empathy, sympathy, wisdom, and leadership as a man, my uncle is a prime example of one who will be passed from generation to generation in our family as an example of what being a good man is.
I also discovered that death is an opportunity. The loss of one can bring together many who may have lost connection over the years, reuniting friends and family in a moment of sadness to bring out moments of smiles and laughter as recollections are shared and stories told.
During this moment of emptiness, I was able to see friends of my father and his brother I haven’t seen in years and family I had fallen out of touch with. While there to mourn and celebrate a life, I was able to find parts of me and my family that you could say had been misplaced.
When I finally returned home that night, I was sad, but full — if that makes any sense. I was full because the emptiness of loss had been filled by the memories of others.
Finally, I learned something about honor.
Far too many times I have been a pallbearer at a funeral and was asked to do so once again. Before, I had never reflected on what this meant and the fact it is indeed an honor, but this time I get it. As I stood with my cousins next to the flag-draped coffin, I had a revelation: My uncle had lived a full life dedicated to his faith and family.
He had walked thousands of miles in his shoes and on this day I, along with five others, had the honor of taking him that last mile. For the first time, I knew and understood what it meant and I will never forget.
I suppose the biggest lesson of all does bear repeating: If you live a life worthy of it, you indeed can and will live on forever.
D. C. Moody is a staff writer for The Easley Progress, The Pickens Sentinel and Powdersville Post and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.