Today I did something really great. I went to a funeral.
Now, I know those two sentences don’t normally go together, so I’d like to explain a little. You know how they say that funerals aren’t supposed to be about mourning, but instead about celebrating life? Well, it never seems that funerals actually end up being that way – at least for me. Every funeral I’ve ever attended…at least those that I can remember…were decidedly not celebrations.
Twenty years ago, when my mother passed, I was devastated. Her funeral was a sob-fest for me. I was heartbroken. I grieved as a son should, I suppose. Fast forward ten years, and my wife and I lost a dear friend to cancer. She was a bundle of energy, a great mother, and so young. Thinking of the family that she left behind – 2 girls who at the time were in elementary school – was gripping.
And so, as I drove across town today to the funeral of young Shawn Blatzer, I expected that I’d be an emotional wreck.
Shawn’s story is perhaps not entirely unique, but all the while, he was unique. Shawn had a rare form of brain cancer – a cancer that most children don’t get. Yes – Shawn was a child. Twelve years old. Thirteen months ago, Shawn received his diagnosis. He and his family were rightfully confused, scared, and upset. Then, he turned his back on the disease and lived life to the fullest.
Shawn had an intense love for the Florida Gators. He loved wrestling. He loved God. To say that he and his family are devout Christians is an understatement. Their faith was (and still is) overwhelming. He was so firm in his faith and his understanding and belief that he was saved. Shawn inspired others.
Today, as I sat in the pews during the service, I marveled at the stories his youth pastors and his father shared. Funny stories were told. One really got the sense of the man that Shawn had become. God’s man. I found myself shedding tears – but also an intense sense that Shawn was cured of his cancer, and had gone “home”. Shawn was a unique soul, and the world is a lesser place without him.
It seems to me, though, that Shawn is likely living it up in the “Gator Nation” corner of heaven.
So today wasn’t a joyous day, but a great day. A day to remember. A day to celebrate.
A great day.