Catching Up — By on April 11, 2011 8:51 AM

I had to attend two memorial services last week!  Well, the memorial service was on a Wednesday night and the other, a viewing, was on a Friday night, both over an hour away from home.  I am not a big fan of going to funerals, wakes, memorial services or anything like it.  I guess you could include anything that involves death and sadness as not my cup of tea.  I’m sure you have the same feeling that I do that you never know what to say or how to comfort the person or people that are mourning.  I imagine not many people actually enjoy going to these functions but it’s an inevitable necessity.  Usually they are sad, depressing, overwhelming and thoroughly exhausting.  Usually I know one or two people and they are the ones being comforted so I am left to sit in those chairs, in that stuffy, small, hot room and wait for it all to be over or the point where I have been there for enough time that it could be seen as acceptable to excuse myself and go home, immediately, whipping off my heals and uncomfortable clothes and thanking God that I am still alive and that it wasn’t someone really close to me. 

These two services were different though.  Maybe because I haven’t been to one in a while or maybe because I am getting older and I am thinking of death a little bit more.  Well, I hope that it is many, many years from today (I am crossing my fingers!) but it is still something that after a certain age you think about from time to time.  I don’t actually think about it too much for me but for my close family.  I am extremely lucky to have my mom and dad and both brothers still with me while I move into my very late 30’s.  My parents are in their 70’s.  They are young but, as their daughter, I think about not having them around and how devastating it would be for me.  This thought came into my head this week when I went to the memorial service of one of my dear friend’s mom who died at the very young age of 66 years old.  She went into the hospital with a cold and had a difficult time breathing and she never came out.  It only took a few days in the hospital, they didn’t know what was wrong, and she died.  It’s terrible.  Terrible for such a young, lovely, and peaceful woman to have her life ended so abruptly but also for her family that she left behind; her husband, my friend Jenn, and her brother.  Jenn and her family are so close, they have always been that way, so I wasn’t looking forward to this service for her mom.  They have one of those families that you are comforted by because they all love each other so much but, more importantly, they know how to show that love.

I met Jenn freshman year of a private high school I got dumped into by my parents because they thought I needed some “guidance.”  Jenn’s locker was right next to mine and we were in the same homeroom.  We also had many classes together.  We hit it off instantly.  She was always quiet and shy and sort of growing into herself, as we all were at that age (you should see her now!  She looks like a super model!).  I remember a time in English class that we were caught by the teacher talking too much (I am quite sure it was sparked by me!) and we got yelled at and separated.  The teacher moved Jenn’s seat and let me stay where I was.  Then the teacher called Jenn’s mom and told her how Jenn and I were acting and how disappointed she was in Jenn.  Oh brother!  I don’t recall the teacher ever calling my parents!  What I do remember is that just a week or two later I found myself at Jenn’s house.  We were meeting up for something or other and I was worried how Jenn’s mom would react to me, as I was a big part of the reason why Jenn had her seat moved in class.  Jenn’s mom did not judge me at all.  She got to know me and she liked me.  She was so fair!  I wasn’t used to that.  I immediately felt comfortable around her.  It’s quite amazing when you meet someone that doesn’t judge you, even when they have heard negative things about you.  It is something I have never forgotten.

At her memorial service on Wednesday night, I walked in to find some old friends of mine from high school as well as Jenn, her dad and brother doing much better than I had expected.  I imagine they didn’t have many more tears left to shed.  Everyone was milling around and talking to one another at the service.  These things end up being a “catching up” place for many people who haven’t seen each other in years.  That’s what it was for me as well.  It was nice to see everyone.  And then, very unexpectedly to me, they had a few people give speeches at the end.  I had forgotten that this was part of the ritual of these services.  Jenn’s brother got up and spoke about how amazing his mother was and kept it light but very meaningful.  It was a glorious speech.  Very well done.  One of the other speakers was Jenn’s mom’s boss.  Well, he was actually the CEO of the company!  How impressive.  The CEO of a huge engineering firm actually took the time to come out, not only to pay respects, but he wanted to say a few words.  Jenn’s mom had worked at this company for years and years.  She had worked there when her boss was just a worker.  He moved his way up in the company, over the years, and Jenn’s mom helped and supported him all the way.  He spoke about this.  He also brought numerous emails that he received from people that worked with Jenn’s mom exclaiming how wonderful and positive she was every time they worked with her.  What an amazing thing to share.  But it was his last comment that shook me to my core.  After speaking about the many people that had beautiful things to say about her, this CEO spoke from HIS heart now.  He said “What can I say about Lorene?  I can tell you that she has singlehandedly made me a better person.”  What an amazing and generous thing to say about someone.  I sat there, in awe of the comment.  I kept thinking that I could only hope to have someone feel that way about me.  What a wonderful thing to have done for someone.

After the speeches were over and everyone put on their coats, hugged goodbye to all of their friends, and stuffed their soaked tissues into their pockets, we all piled out and into our cars to go back to our lives.  To the lives that touch hundreds of people every year.  To the lives that make an imprint on the world around us every day.

What is your imprint?  What is your legacy?  What feelings will you leave behind?  Who are you?  What have you done to help your family, the community and the world we live in?

Dedicated to the beloved Lorene Primich and all the people in the world that lost their lives prematurely but left their sparkle on just one person to remember and live by.

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