A fond farewell
This week I sat in a packed church to say farewell to a childhood friend. Some of you reading this will know who I'm talking about, for the rest of you we will refer to him simply as John.
It was a stinking hot day in Sydney and my journey West on the freeway was the most intense period of radiant heat in my recent memory. It was 44 degrees centigrade, the sun was belting down from above and my engine was sizzling me from below. I arrived at my parents house for lunch a bit giddy.
I was back in my hometown of Springwood, in the beautiful Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia. That's where John and I grew up as next-door neighbours and childhood pals. We didn't know each other too well as adults, in the last decade only having a run in once or twice when we were at the pub or at home during Christmas time. It was always a pleasant 'how have you been' catch up. As little kids we had spent most afternoons together, eating shapes biscuits, playing Sega and creeping on the girls in the intimates section of the Target catalogues.
I will briefly mention the black dog in the room. He's a little bastard and likes to nip at the heels of many. In Australian culture it is conventional for young men to act tough, as though the dog isn't there, to muffle our emotions instead. This is a society in which that little bastard, the black dog, thrives. Sadly, John couldn't get away from that mean, old hound. To the surprise of those closest to him, he chose to stop running two weeks ago. Rest well dude.
In many ways John and I were similar. Both white, middle-class boys raised by loving, stable families in a stock-standard suburb of Sydney. We shared circumstance and values, and we even looked similar. So his passing hit me with the passing force of a jet engine after 8 Tequila shots. It really spun me, physically and emotionally, far more than I could have anticipated.
The words of his friends were beautiful, infused with humour and focused not on his bank balance, position on the corporate ladder or fancy wardrobe items... They focused on his kindness and consistent optimism. His friends loved him and he had been such a positive influence and trusted advisor to so many during his 30 years on earth.
In a little under an hour the service had concluded. Then the bulk of the services attendees went off to have an informal salute to his life at the pub up the street.
HIS ELDER BROTHER AND I CLINKED OUR BEERS AND TOOK A SIP, A SILENT TRIBUTE TO A FALLEN SOLDIER. AFTER A MOMENT HE GENTLY SUMMED UP THE SCENE... "THIS IS HOW HE WOULD HAVE HAD IT”.
Although I didn’t know him all that well in his adult life it was clear to see what he valued in life. He didn’t appear to be fixated on a shiny new car, a supermodel in his bed or the amount of property he had in his portfolio. These are not things people often recount in eulogies. Instead, at the end, regardless of background, material possessions or wealth, people are remembered. PEOPLE are remembered and celebrated.
Nobody celebrates about a dead guy's Ferrari. That’s sick. Unless they get it in the will, then they celebrate very fucking quietly, in private.
The experience of farewelling John made an interesting thought pop into my mind later that evening:
WHAT WOULD MY FRIENDS SAY ABOUT ME AT MY FUNERAL ?
Is my personality, attitude, contribution to those I love and the world around me worth celebrating? Is it worth remembering at least?
I imagine that next time I stub my toe, I can try and see through the pure-red-rage and apply this new logic: Is putting my fist through the wall and yelling so that my neighbours can hear how much I hate the inanimate obstruction going to have a positive impact on the world around me? Or will it just put me on a path to being remembered as the 'yelly neighbour'.
It doesn't have to be your funeral. Thinking constantly about your impending and inescapable doom is fucking horrendous. But perhaps try asking yourself, How would people remember me at this office? In this shop? Am I walking out of this excruciatingly long Post Office moment having posted my parcel and made the clerk smile?
A life itself is a moment, which ends – if you’re lucky - with a funeral. Getting some coffee is a moment too, which ends with paying a few dollars and getting your morning buzz. Are you living each moment with a positive impact? Have you offered a free smile to a passing stranger or recently made a concentrated effort to not tread on emerging Acacia Floribunda saplings on your weekend hike? If so, then you have left a positive impact. It’s not hard and it cost you nothing.
As I discovered there can be a silver-lining on the passing of a loved one. Moments like these offer motivation for us to reflect on our values and reconnect with emotion, intention and our impact on the world around us.
THIS POST IS DEDICATED IN GRATEFUL MEMORY OF AN OLD FRIEND! BMX JUMPS, CHEDDAR CHEESE SHAPES BICCIES AND SONIC THE HEDGEHOG SESSIONS IN THE SKY OLD BUDDY! REST WELL.
If you are experiencing a bit of a rough patch, feeling low on energy or having trouble there is nothing weird about you. Depression is common and can get away from you very quickly, just like any physical illness. If you are depressed it is often hard to talk to people around you, having trouble with this is again not unique, weird or special... It is common and you are far more normal than you think.
There is plenty of help available for free.
- Your GP can help for free
- If you need to talk to someone now call LIFELINE - 13 11 14
- There's heaps of great info on the following websites:
DON'T FORGET TO SHOW US SOME SUPPORT ON OUR SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS - THANKS IN ADVANCE!