Sep 19, 2011

Running To Stand Still

As I've struggled and began to make peace with my own emotions and thoughts over the last week,  I've realized that there are no easy answers.  The healing comes from leaning on friends, from sharing stories, from thinking about the future, and from finding ways to best honor and remember who our friend Dave was.

The funeral was on Friday and I allowed a lot of those feelings to come to the surface.  It's a lot to think about and deal with in the course of a week.  It was great to see so many old friends together in one place after years of separation.  We laughed and cried, and did our best to make sense of how we got to this point.  It was a reminder that we're all going through our own stages of grief and healing.

I was still very close to Dave at the time of his death, but a common sentiment after losing someone is always that you wish you had spent more time together.  If anything, Dave's funeral reminded all of us that we need to make more of an effort to get together at least once a year.  I think we owe it to each other to create new memories and stories.

When I arrived in Kindersley on Friday a small group of us took a quick trip to the church before the funeral to see Dave's body and add our mementos to his casket.  Wendy, Dave's girlfriend, had gone earlier with Dave's family and expressed how difficult it was.  We all shared the same thought.  It was his body, but it wasn't him.

I placed a film strip in Dave's casket.  It was from our first year of film school together, from one of the first times either of us had ever shot on film.  The strip showed Dave walking across Wascana park.  I wanted to place something with him that I still had a part of.  The strip was a spliced piece that we didn't use in our finished reel.  I still have that film to remember him and to remember that project we worked on together.

After that we all headed back to the house to get changed and to prepare.  It was a sobering experience to think about why we had all gathered.  

The service was obviously emotional for everyone, but Wendy seemed especially strong when she spoke of Dave.  Hearing so many stories and shared experiences gave us all moments to smile between our tears.

At a small cemetery outside of town, we carried Dave's casket to his grave.  As it was set in place I stepped back only to have my numbness return.  I can't believe I'll never see him again.  I can't believe this is where we are, I thought.  I watched as Wendy and Dave's parents said their final goodbyes before stepping away.  It was after that moment that I really felt awake.  

Life is cruel and unfair sometimes, but these are exactly the things that challenge us to be better people.  To make our time count as best we can.  I looked at Dave's casket one last time and made my peace. 

Back at the house all of Dave's friends began to gather.  The mood became instantly lighter as we joked and talked.  We caught up with one another, reminisced about good times, and laughed.  We smoked cigars in honor of Dave and watched the video I edited.  It was a gathering he would have been proud of.

Ward, Mike, Me, Wendy, and Tyler

As the night wore down it was just the five of us left.  We joked around, snapped some pictures, and played with little Darwin.  It became increasingly clear as things wrapped up that while the loss of Dave marked an ending, it also introduced us to a brand new chapter that we're all going to be a part of.  

When Ward, Tyler and I drove out to his parents place to stay the night, a huge display of northern lights lit up the prairie sky directly in front of us.  The symbolism was all too apparent as we fell silent for a moment. When things get rough I think we all need a reminder to keep looking forward and to rediscover the beauty that abounds in this unpredictable world.  Dave's gone, but now his story will live on through us, and for better or worse, it's something that we'll always share.

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