This is the eulogy I delivered at my Father's funeral a few years back. I'll soon be sharing a short story that documents the unfolding of this week of my life, but in the meantime - here's just a nice thing I was able to write honestly about the Best Man I've ever known.
Today is my birthday.
The thing is, however, that I’m not bummed about this - shall we say, 'coincidence'? First, because last week when Dad and I spoke, he had expressed wanting to get together. I’m almost positive this wasn’t exactly the barbecue he had in mind… But:
Here we are! So this is a nice thing for him and a nice thing for me, but also… Not exactly the best thing for either of us. So, we share in that.
Over the past few days, I have received love and support from so many people. The majority of messages were kept short and sweet while others held advice and people’s own experiences with death.
One such instance was with My friend Thalia. She reached out to me the other day. Her message was perfect in its brevity and it shared a sentiment that many messages that I received had.
It read: ‘Mark, I just heard about your Father. I am so, so sorry to hear about his passing. Nothing can prepare us for something like this and my heart feels for you. I love you lots and I’m always here for you……..’ This message was followed by the appropriate amount of heart emojis… Which is about 45-50, for your own future reference.
Now, as prevalent as emojis were in all the messages I received, the sentiment that I’m talking about is found in Thalia’s use of the adage ‘Nothing can prepare us for something like this.’
This piece of advice, worded in various ways throughout the messages I received, confirmed for me something that I always knew, and that would be instrumental in my healing process.
My reaction to being told that nothing could have prepared me for this was… ‘You’re wrong. You are so very, very wrong.’
My Dad was so, so proud of me. He was the father who would smile, completely alone, just at the thought of me being out in the world. He was proud of every single one of my actions or opinions. He had such confidence in me, such profound belief in all that I did. It was impossible for me to get down on myself. He showed me, always the one to lead by example, how much I SHOULD love myself. That I deserved only ever to be completely surrounded by love and happiness.
He would say, ‘Never settle for GOOD, My boy.’ as we found our way to the bottom of a bottle or two(realistically, three)of nice but - reasonably priced - wine. He’d go on to to say, ‘You. Are. The greatest. And as such you must remember you only deserve the Greatest. Great success, great happiness, great peace,’ and then, in classic Chris style, he would pause, smirk the cheekiest of smirks, and then, before taking a big gulp of wine, he would finish with ‘… And MOST Important of all, never neglect … Great sex.’
It was his kindness, wisdom and faith in me. It was seeing how much he loved me, that HAS prepared me for his departure. Nothing could be more clear in this moment.
I am so completely filled with love and gratitude for having had the relationship I did with him. I miss him and I am sad that he is physically gone from my life, for sure. But any pain I feel is so vastly outweighed by the Love.
When I find myself caught off guard by the reality of his passing and I falter, it is always my Father that sings above it all in my head. Any fear and sadness is completely drowned out by his voice.
So when I say that No, I was not un-prepared for my fathers departure, I mostly mean it. A life with Chris Lund was one long study session with the best teacher and friend one could hope for, and my father’s passing was simply the exit exam. I know this, and I know that because of what I have learned from him - I will get through this, as I will get through all things, with the help of his love and confidence.
Beyond that, it was how my father passed away, too, that shows me that this was meant to be. That this was his time. It was while dozing off on the train home, a routine nap which was carefully planned each day, that he peacefully passed away.
These naps were a ritual he enjoyed daily. It’s difficult to express just how much he enjoyed them. So much so that even he, ever the social butterfly, would dodge phone calls and claim that to answer or make one ‘would be rude.’.
Always a man of manners, anyone who wasn’t too familiar with his passion for a good nap may have believed that to be his honest reasoning.
However. As someone who spoke to him everyday and knew him better than almost anyone? I can tell you that that was without question: a cover up. I had countless conversations with my Father during his commute home. If the mood was with him, maybe thanks to a late coffee or a successful day of work, he could chat up a storm. But, the man knew what he liked and if there was something he loved? There was no stopping him from embracing it. Family, friends, naps. His love held no limitations of big or small nor was anything worthy or unworthy. He loved each thing with a purity and honesty unlike any other.
These naps were sacred to him. Each little moment of shut-eye was precious time he got to enjoy within himself; sinking into his seat as the train warmed up, losing touch with the hum of the engine just enough to really enjoy the steady rocking of the train. I’ve seen this man fall asleep on trains. He smiles.
Later that day at the hospital, I saw Dad after he had passed. He was so very peaceful. Resting there, under the blanket of stillness that comes over us all once our souls have moved on.
My eyes scanned, checking for a grimace, something to confirm my fears that he had suffered at all. I was met, and for this I will be eternally grateful, with nothing more than those all too familiar wrinkles around his eyes. It was a relief, but I can’t say that it was a surprise. I looked down on his peaceful happy face and just thought:
‘Well, of course.’
He was smiling. He always smiled.
It is like this, for all of us who had the honour of knowing this perfect soul, I’m sure, that he will remain. That smiling face, those caring eyes and that laugh so full and loud that it made fine crystal nervous and windows rattle.
He was the best Man. He was the best Dad. He was the best husband(the second time around). He is my best friend, and now he is with us all; loving us, supporting us, smiling with us, always.