My beloved brother passed away recently and at his memorial service my sister and I sang… you guessed it… Amazing Grace. While I agree with my uncle who says he never wants to admit out loud to being a “wretch”, there is something about the words and the tune that bring me great peace. “Was blind, but now I see” (meant to be sung)… somehow my brother was blind to the overwhelming number of people who loved him and the vast numbers for whom being loved by him was life affirming and life changing. He died alone, yet nearly 350 people attended his funeral including folks who flew in from all over the country like Tim, who was one of his best friends since 4th grade. We had 12 honorary pallbearers because it was so difficult to narrow down the list of “Chris’s boyz”– those friends who had weathered thick and thin with him, celebrated many of his 39 birthdays with him, pontificated about the meaning life and the mysteries of women with him, and watched many a football game with him. And then there were his “girlz” (sorry to the feminists among us, but I don’t think the wonderful women in this category would mind the title under these special circumstances)… a handful of deep, meaningful romantic relationships… none of which got the fairy tale ending of “happily ever after”, but all of whom expressed their gratitude for the time they got with him in spite of the ensuing heartbreak, and for being able to hold a piece of him in their hearts forever.
I pray that “now he sees”.
In the spring my brother’s ashes will be buried under a tree we’ll plant for him in the yard of our family home, the place where he grew up. Below the grass he mowed, and next to the sidewalk he was supposed to shovel, but usually talked me into liberating from snow. And again I’ll sing Amazing Grace (and hope that Chris appreciates the heartfelt nature of the gesture and again overlooks the “pitchy” notes and the general void of any musical talent whatsoever on my part). “…and grace will lead me home.” (be sure to sing in your head or out loud). I’ll sing those words and hope with my whole heart that my dearly departed brother who struggled on this earthly plane, finally feels “at home” and at peace.
Thank you to his dear friend, Phil who posted this on Wednesday, the day that would have been his 40th birthday…
I meant to say this at your service but just did not have it in me to do so.
–Christopher David Bennett born into life February 1, 1972 born into eternal life January 21, 2012. I am the gentle autumns rain, do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow I am the diamond glints on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain I am the gentle autumns rain. When you awaken in the mornings hush I am the sweet uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight, I am the soft stars that shine at night. So do not stand at my grave and cry I am not there I do not die. (Anonymous) Happy Birthday my friend!