life and loss

I sat in a church pew last night surrounded by young people, many wearing white t-shirts with J’s smiling face on them. J’s family at the front, a mixture of young and old, many of whom shared about J through song, a poem, or just speaking some of their heart, trying to do the love and loss they felt justice.

Over and over what a good job J’s mom had done was repeated. Many expressed how respectful and kind J was, what a joy he was to be around. There was also a lot of pain and questioning, grieving a life cut so short. J’s 20th birthday was only a few weeks later and there had already been party plans in the work.

Death is a strange thing. It affects all of us, we all die and we all lose loved ones. Yet, when death takes what we love the pain is so deep, so raw and engulfing.

The crowd at J’s funeral was a mix; while mostly young it was a combination of guys and girls, a mixture of races, and a mixture of how each person knew J.

During the open sharing time, J’s mother got up to share and quiet spread over all of us. She shared what a true gift J was, what a blessing from God and how thankful she was that we all had a chance to know this gift.

My heart ached last night. I watched many young people grieve the loss of their friend, observed the row of young men in front of me all look ahead with steel cold faces trying not to feel too deeply. One of the guys leaned forward and bowed his head down half way through the service and his shoulders began to shake with silent sobs. His friend, the toughest looking of the group put his hand on his friend’s shoulder and tears silently fell down his cheeks as well.

Later I stood in the room for viewing the body with a dozen or so young people all crying, struggling to leave their friend’s body, and tears fell down my cheeks as well.

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