Now Healing Can Begin

If you will grant me one more day of writing about loss, I promise you this day is the day that will move us forward.  I will try to place you in the setting that the words you will read, were said to us.   Maybe that will help, but most likely you have all been in this setting before in some manner.  You have all listened to prayers.  Songs.  Eulogies.   I think I misspoke when I told you of The Eulogy.  It should have been more fitting.  This isn’t the end of a man’s impact on our lives.  It is the beginning of carrying him differently through out the rest of our lives.  A eulogy speaks of an ending.  These words speak of carrying on.

If you could be seated on that hard chair.  Squeeze yourself in, shoulder to shoulder, with a cousin, a spouse, a stranger.   A face familiar to you only from the last few days of being in the same place and sharing the same sorrow.  The young man sitting in front of you, to your left, with tears drip…drip…dripping off of his cheek.   Hitting the dark of his jacket.  You glance around wanting to see the sister, the brother, the parents, the kids, the cousins….make sure they are okay.   Knowing you can’t make anything different.

The room is large, but not  large enough.  You glance through the other rooms opened up to hold the one family.  His family.

The preacher sits after welcoming the brother.

And the physically strong, powerfully built man steps to the podium.  His father standing there next to him.  And with a deep, but soft and gentle voice, he speaks to each of us individually.  And pulls us closer.  Together.

He says with tenderness and sincerity…

“We’re all here because Paul touched our lives. It may have been as a co-worker, a team mate, a friend, or because you were family. The truth is… we’re all family. Paul’s heart brought so many of us together and has sewn us into one family.  I found great comfort hearing the word “brother” whispered between tears and laughter this week.   My circle of brothers is wide and powerful.   I owe my little brother for that. I love each of you…as Paul did.

That’s why I’m here.   We all have immeasurable hurt in our hearts;  tears for the world that has lost someone so special and tears for our own lives, a little bit darker now.   But Paul would have none of this… the crying, the feeling of being lost.  He would seize this and turn it into something powerful,  convert this into a time of celebration, repurpose this into something good; something in that makes me proud to be his brother.   The true definition of this man.

Many of you know him by a common passion or interest.   Maybe it is work, sports, school, or music.  Maybe it’s because Paul met you waiting in line at a store and invited you to his house for a Saturday evening bonfire. When you’re with Paul there are two types of people that you encounter; friends and friends that you have not met.  I can honestly say that Paul was entirely genuine and his smiling face and contagious laughter never concealed other motives.   If he told you that he loved you,  it was an absolute.

But he was deep.  Deeper than any ocean.  His layers of feelings and caring were the core of who he was.   He had dreams and aspirations that many share, but few actively chase. Paul was a do’er,  an unstoppable force, a man passionate about what he wished to accomplish.

Paul was a man who was also passionate about family. I once described Paul as being the strongest and also the most gentle man you will ever meet.  He loved his wife deeply.  He depended on her more than she would ever know, to be his rock…his safety in a storm. He loved his Mom and Dad.  Not a day would go by without a text or a phone call from Paul to make sure that they were ok.

His greatest love was for his boys.  He believed in them.  We shared many starry evenings together, dreaming and predicting successes for our children.  He knew that both of his sons were both smart and ornery, perhaps a payback, because they are both a lot like their Daddy. They are destined not just for great things, but to become great people, just like their Daddy.

Paul was tirelessly pursuing his dreams. Everybody here has seen hardwood smoke billowing from the smoker, smelled pulled pork and brisket, and tasted the sauce that he helped create. Few people were able to see him endlessly typing on the computer, completing a bachelors’ degree from DeVry.   Paul was under constant pressure to succeed.  Pressure that he put on himself. Pressure to be a good son, a good father, and a good husband.  These were all interconnected for Paul.

He found time to be a coach for Youth Wrestling, Little league Baseball, and to teach his sons to be outdoorsmen.  He gifted the boys with a connection to him that will transcend any distance.  That was his love of music.  Just this week I watched Oldest Son  playing his guitar. His fingers moved effortlessly across the frets and he plucked each note perfectly.  I could feel Paul’s smile.

This week my mom was talking to Clark, owner of Clark’s IGA.  Our family has shopped at his grocery store for generations and he has been a great friend.  Clark was recalling a moment that he had with Paul at the Small Town  Fourth of July.  They were having a quiet moment away from the bustle of the BBQ booth.  Paul had just exclaimed how tired he was from smoking pork shoulder all night. Clark  asked him why he did it.  Without hesitation, Paul told him “For my boys, its my legacy.”

A defining moment of this man.

This legacy is what kept Paul moving, not for personal gain…but to have something to share and then give to his beloved boys and the rest of us.  This legacy now falls on me, his family, his entire family.  That’s you.

Here is my challenge to you.  We’re all a better person because of Paul.  Theres a family here with a huge hole torn wide open.  We all have that hole.  Healing starts today.  Don’t let the selfless acts of love that brought us all together be in vain.  Reach out to others.  Open your heart and do things because they are right things to do.

‘The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.’
William Wordsworth

How do we say goodbye to a giant of a man, a friend to everyone he knew, and most importantly a loving father, husband, son, and brother. The easy answer is…we don’t.  Paul will remain in our hearts and more importantly, our actions.

I miss my brother, and I know that you do too.
I’ll press on, and I know that you will too.
I love my brother, and I know that you do too.”

No need for exaggeration.   No need for drama.  No need for anything but the love and kindness and decency of one man given to the entirety of the world he touched and shared his life with.  With the strength of his convictions he sets us up, embraces us, and encourages us to take what Paul gave us….and go on.

35 thoughts on “Now Healing Can Begin

  1. Colleen, Sometimes you are honoured enough to meet someone who makes you feel better, about yourself, your life, life in general, through their unselfish sharing of themselves.. and their time, they spread a feeling of wellbeing, that there’s goodness in the World… Now that’s a talent beyond compare… Many thanks for sharing the Eulogy for this special person.. xPenx

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  2. Beautiful, Colleen. It brought me back to the hard pew, the squeezing in with family and friends, and the words honoring and celebrating someone I love. It brought tears. You should write about loss for as long as you need to. Paul must have been an amazing man, and it sounds like he will be very much missed by a lot of people.

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    • Thank you Robin. He truly was amazing and what he ‘was’, still ‘is’ in so many hearts. Thank you for seeing him in his brother’s words Robin. That means so much and speaks to what his brother said.

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  3. Celebrating the life—that is what I try to focus on. How true, we do carry them with us due to how they touched our lives. Your words were far more touching than someone saying that we will always carry them in our hearts. Which is true, but it is how they lived their life is what we carry. Beautiful post.

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  4. Very touching post. You all must be reeling in the midst of so much sorrow. These days are hard and raw and yet they are a time of great closeness. Do not feel you must stop writing about loss, in writing comes healing. Be good to yourself. Sending you hugs.

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    • Thank you Tric. It is comforting for me to write. I think for his brother, and others, as well. Reeling is a good word. And you’re right about the ‘closeness’. It makes a difference when surrounded, supported, and sharing. Thank you, for the comfort.

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  5. I thank you for this, I thank him for allowing you to share his beautiful words. This is why I love being a funeral celebrant, being able to share the essence of the person, whom I never met. Celebrating their wonderful life on this earthly coil and sharing with their loved ones, the memories and the love when they leave. Footprints are made by so many in this world, some are washed away, others through their generosity of spirit, remain and a little part of them is in those that they knew and loved. This was a stunning Eulogy and I am so sorry for his loss, thoughts to him, the families and you. xx

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  6. This is a beautiful way to remember someone special. And to think of sharing him with us, jet extends the scope of what it means to touch lives. Very beautifully written, Colleen. Someone special truly graced your lives. ox

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  7. Colleen, Thank you for sharing this, I now feel I knew Paul all my life, and he was special to me, that he had been my friend forever. Soft smile, now I wish I knew him. The words of love, compassion, and warmth used to describe Paul, now fill my heart. Colleen don’t limit yourself, as time passes you will have more to say about Paul, and you will have an audience of wonderful friends that will continue to be moved by what you share. My heart goes out to you. Please be safe, Bill

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    • Thank you Bill. These words are his brother’s words, after my intro. I thought it was the most powerfully loving eulogy … and truly believe it will help some start to heal. And thank you for encouraging me to write. I hope his brother writes more. I think he’s wonderful. And Paul was truly someone you would have loved.

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  8. Who wrote the eulogy, Chatter Master? I am sorry to be going back through older notifications; it was difficult to keep up…

    I am glad you decided to try and move on… Po, too. But it is hard to do so…even if WAS expected. Personally, although being raised Buddhist, the recent deaths of GOOD people so close to me has been difficult to deal with… to move forward as you wrote.

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  9. I have no idea how people can be so strong at funerals. It seems that the brother is the one who is helping everyone else to grieve the loss of his brother. Wow. I was a mess at my Mom’s funeral. I couldn’t even form the words. I really admire this brother’s courage.

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    • He was/is amazing Stacey. I was so impressed with his eulogy, his grace, during this. I can still hear and remember his words. That doesn’t happen often at times like this. But he really got through to people. I hope he comes back to see what you wrote here.

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