This evening, I went to the "Life Celebration" of my friend Pat. This was one of a handful of funerals that I have attended in my life. Most of them happened when I was very young and did not understand what death really was. Others involved people that I didn't know very well.
Pat was a very caring and friendly person. He liked music and spending time with his friends. For a few years, we saw each other regularly. As time would have it, our journeys led us down different paths, and we fell out of contact. I'd venture to guess that I might have seen Pat just a few times in the past year or two. Last Wednesday, Hunter told me that Pat had taken his own life. He had taken the time to plan the event before hand - the time, the place, the method. He said goodbye to his friends at work and gave them hugs. Pat had written four letters - to his parents, his sister, his wife, and one of his friends.
Pat was the second "local" that I met while attending SU, and he quickly became a great friend. When I arrived at the funeral home, I looked around and saw so many people who have been close friends at one point or another in my life. It was a shame that it would take an event like this to bring this group of people together. We gathered to remember Pat, we cried, and we grieved together.
I can't imagine being in a place so desparate that life had so little meaning. He had his problems, but who doesn't? As I write this, I have really begun to contemplate life and what may lie beyond. Pat did not want his death to be a burden on his family and friends, so in the spirit of his last wishes, I'll give an update as to what my long lost friends are up to.
Graham, an extraordinary guitarist, has continued to pursue his dreams of playing music. He's played several local shows lately - I can't wait to go see one soon. He is engaged to a lovely girl who lived down the street from us while I was in college.
Bart has gotten his act together, and he works for the Worcester County Health Department. He recently purchased a house in Ocean Pines with his Girlfriend.
Ted was recently living with Pat. He received one of the letters. I introduced the two of them a few years ago, and lost touch with both of them.
Sara, whom I have known for years, is a year away from graduating with a Philosophy degree. She's still working at Papa Johns. She will be getting married in September to Rob. I worked with Rob about 6 years ago at Pizza Hut. He was a shift manager, having just graduated from high school.
I didn't get to speak much with Amy, Pat's wife. She was understandably receiving much attention from everybody in attendance. I passed along my condolences and gave her a big hug. I also wrote her a note about Pat, and the day that I met the two of them.
When the service was over, I visited the box of Pat's ashes to say my last goodbye. I placed my hand on the box, and said a prayer for him, his family, and his friends.
Patrick's life affected so many people. There were so many people in attendance, they had to open up the room across the hall. I don't know if Pat realized how many people cared so much for him, but I do know that everybody there considered themselves blessed to have Pat in their lives, if only for a brief moment.
Rest in peace, my friend. I'll carry memories of you forever.