I know some people asked for a copy of the commemoration speech I gave at Christian's funeral, so here it is in full. I read it essentially verbatim with only a few minor deviations based on what others before me had said.
Before I begin, we all loved Christian and knew him in different ways. In light of our love, we would like to compile a collection of experiences and stories that you shared with him, and to make a book out of these stories – a sort of portrait of him which we could then share with all of you. If you would like to contribute, please take time out of a day to remember him – both good and difficult – and to write out a short story or stories of time you spent with him or ways you knew him. We have remembrance sheets and envelopes for you to take in the lobby with my address on both.
This is the greatest single loss I could have in my life. Mom, dad, family – I love you all and it would devastate me to lose any of you, but this loss is the biggest. Bigger than my own life, bigger than anything I have ever owned or done or seen: my brother Christian.
We get left with two things. One of those is questions – simple ones, scary ones, hopeful ones: Where did he go – what is it like where he is? Does any of this life matter? If I can lose something, did I ever really own it? Not all these questions have answers. The days filled with questions quickly become like stones in one’s heart, and so I am so grateful for this second thing that God has provided, which is the support you all have given to us in your prayers and thoughts, and kindnesses.
Mom, dad, thank you for all your patience, for your relentless faith, for wanting to spend time together, and for how much you approve of, and appreciate each others’ significant other. Thank you, Alistair and Julie, for supporting mom and dad in the ways that you can, and for leaving to God the ways you cannot. Thank you, Cameron, for being bright and as honest as a nine-year-old boy can be. Thank you, family and friends, for your open doors, your time spent talking, your visits, prayers, support and love you have shown. Thank you to all who searched for Christian. To everyone, thank you all for being like light to us in this time of darkness.
In the end, one big question remains: what now? We all know this answer, because you have embodied it. In the light you have been given, the light which you shared with us, I beg you, share this light with others: what is the depth of peace, patience, kindness, faith? As you have all helped us maintain hope, please do this for other people too: the grumpy cashier at the grocery store, the uncle who doesn’t talk much, the parent you hate. People are so fragile; there is simply no time to waste by holding grudges or being ambivalent. If my mom and dad had been angry at each other in this time, I don’t know what I would have done. Instead of letting their separation be divisive, they both chose a love of family over divorce, and so unity has prevailed despite the incredible stress of our circumstances: their selflessness has been a true model and blessing to me. I have learned that we have no time to let vendettas dictate our actions. When we extend a hand first, we risk getting hurt, but darkness cannot overcome a flame burning, so know that any light you give – though it may appear lost, HAS had an impact.
This death is immeasurably sad, and I will always carry it with me in some fashion. Even right now though, there is still a much greater hope that this not all done, a hope that even defeats death and affirms us in the knowledge that we do not struggle in vain.
I would like to end with a short prayer found on page 134 in the book of common prayer. It closes the service of Compline; a service to end the day. When we were younger, Christian nine years old and I eleven, mom tried to teach us this prayer before we went to school each morning. As a result, we took it for granted and it wasn’t until years later at age 25 that I saw beauty in its serene and restful words. I prayed this at my grandpa’s funeral two years past. I pray it again today for all who were impacted by Christian’s life and I would be honored if you would pray it with me.
Keep watch, dear Lord, over those who work or watch or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend to the sick, Lord Christ, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake.
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