Remarks Prepared for J.

R’s Funeral On this solemn day we are gathered here to re-affirm the significant life, our brother, cousin, son and our friend, J.R Rice lived. Bereaved and grief stricken as we are; there is not one of us who isn’t happier today that our life was touched by this gentle giant. In our grief we are reminded of the impact his presence had on us; we are reminded how important each smile, each word, each touch or each act was to us. We mourn because we thought there would be time to amass many more smiles, words, touches and more memories. In grieving we acknowledge the frailty of this thought – life doesn’t last forever, we realize – yet grief stricken we still ask the question – why him? We still ask – why now? We still ask – Why take such a good man from us? It is a sad fact that though we may ask why, no answer given will ever quench the desire to have him back with us again. And like you, I desire him more today than yesterday. Like you, I loved J.R like a brother. And in giving this memorial I want to share with you two memories I had with J.R before ending with some remarks to his children and a poem I wrote. Memory 1: 10th Grade Football, my regret over not playing Memory 2: Standing up for me in Clyde I told these two stories because we all have memories similar to these; memories of J.R as a protector, friend, confidant or encourager. We all have memories of J.R being J.R; imperfect as he was – and he would be the first to admit he was imperfect, he was still J.R. Seeing that I am amongst friends I know I don’t have to say this, but I feel I must – J.R was a great man; he was a marvelous man – and in honor of him I want to share this poem with you, its called ‘A Great Man’ A Great Man What does it mean to be great? Is it a measure of height or statue? To be sure, greatness is love in action; it is dignified companionship. It is bestowed not earned. Those adorned with its title do not aspire to its height They live by a simple creed – a creed of kinship and acceptance. Life is embodied in them Relationships are strengthened through them Eternity is shortened by them And experiences are transcended by them A Great Man isn’t defined by his personality but esteemed by his interactions He is not one to share his mind but one who shares his heart. He doesn’t claim to be perfect but wears his imperfections proudly He doesn’t give for recognition but recognizes the importance of giving And though he may not be religious A Great Man doesn’t acknowledge God through worship but lives God through his works. This is J.R, he was a great man. We all knew it; we all know it. And it is for this reason that he will be missed more than many others we have lost. Before I wrap up I’d like to address his children; for this moment in their lives will extend far into the future and though many people may comfort them and offer them strength; the reality of this event will impact you for a long time. Like you I lost a parent young; I wasn’t as young as you but I was young nonetheless. From this point on, your life is going to be separated into two era’s; before the parent died and after J.R died. You will remember the before time, as fantastic and ripe with innocence. Events will be whitewashed to perfection; problems will be minimized or suppressed. In your subconscious you may realize the lie this represents; but you will cling to it to remain close to your fallen parent.

The ‘after’ times will be filled with a deep yearning for J.R; a deep wish that he wouldn’t have died. There will be days, sometimes consecutive days when you will pray before going to sleep, that you’ll wake up the next morning to find that the death was a terrible dream. There will be days marked by pleas to God to bring J.R back, it will be marked by bargaining with God to bring J.R back – you’ll promise to always be good to dedicate your life to some cause greater than yourself and then you’ll grow angry when your pleas go unanswered and your bargain is rejected. It is likely that during this time you will experience depression mixed with deep anger – anger towards God for taking J.R away then towards J.R for going away, then towards yourself for having driven him away. In grief you will remember every little action you made that may have been seen as ungrateful. These actions, though many people might tell you otherwise, might be seen by you as reasons why J.R went away. I say this to you today my children, all these things are natural; they are all part of the grieving process. The challenge for you, over the coming years, years that will stretch out and at some points seem to go on forever; is to separate life into one more era, the ‘after I finished grieving’ era – because it is through grieving that you will free yourself from sadness. Through this process you are likely to feel guilty once acceptance leads to you letting J.R go, a thought that seems inconceivable now – but that is the ultimate end to grief, you won’t forget J.R or deny his meaning to you; but you will learn to live comfortably with the truth that he is gone, never to return again. As it was told to me, you will learn to live beyond his death. This is a long learning process but it will happen; thus is the promise of grief. Do not be afraid to ask for help if your grief becomes too much and do not fail to admit its existence. You are loved by so many people who will be there to help you – remember that and gain strength through it. In closing let me ask the Holy Mother and Father to accept our friend, our brother, our son and our cousin into heaven without delay. Take good care of him and us as we make the transition to living without his presence. He will be missed, my brother Godspeed.

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