Thursday, November 16, 2006

Final Farewell

If the number of people that attend your funeral is any indication of how well you lived your life, Jesse Lamison was truly a great person, even at 21. Last evening at the visitation, we waited in line for almost a solid hour to view his body and pay our respects, and even then, the wait was interrupted by a scheduled Boy Scout ceremony (Jess was an Eagle Scout). We figured that well over 500 people came to visit, from all walks of life: Family, Boy Scouts, Ford Plant employees (his job), and many friends both gay and straight. It was inspiring for me, and I hope it gave his family at least a glimmer of solace.

This morning was the service, and honestly, it was the most emotionally exhausting thing I've done in a long time. It was standing room only, even with additional chairs lining the aisle and foyer. And there wasn't a dry eye in the house. His aunt, with whom he was very close, spoke lovingly and eloquently about her favorite memories of him. Then his precious niece (maybe 6 years old) bravely told the crowd how much she loved him and how she always liked it when Jesse came over to do his laundry. We all smiled at that--it was a much needed break from the awful lumps in our throats.

His uncle also spoke, followed by his Mom, who could only choke out a few soft but tremendously powerful words of love. His 16 year-old brother also said a few words amidst tears. It was the single hardest thing for me to see during the whole service. He ended with a tearful "I loved him," and I sobbed. Much like I'm doing right now. I can only imagine their grief.

The precession to the grave site was awe-inspiring. We estimated that close to 100 cars were in line. I thought about taking a Peek Pic of all the cars, because it would have been a good metaphor for how much Jesse was loved by so many, but I decided against it. All the people that matter were in the line with me.

During all of this, I thought a lot about my own mortality, and what might be said about my life, or who might attend my funeral. I'm well aware that your circle of friends tends to get smaller as you age, but I couldn't help but be inspired by all the people there to morn his death. I can only hope to have as many friends and supporters as Jesse did. I walked away from Jesse's final resting place today with one last gift from him--the desire to live better, to be friendlier, to be a positive influence, and to live my life to its fullest.

Rest in peace, Jesse. I won't ever forget you.

[I've turned off comments for this post. I'd like to keep these thoughts, and my memory of this day, completely undiluted. I hope you understand.]