Thursday, April 23, 2009

Eulogy

Well, I don't know if that's exactly what you would call this but it's the best word I could come up with to describe it. This was written and shared by my Uncle Buck (the man with a gift for words) at Carleigh's service. Just wanted to share it.

Holly, Anthony, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak today. It is a humbling experience to be part of this most incredible journey.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to say today. I think I ended up with 5 different versions of this talk. I wish I could share stories of the life Carleigh lived. I wish we could wrap our hearts in warm memories of her first steps, her first time saying Mama, the first teen tantrum when she looked at Anthony and said, "Dad, you are sooo not cool!" I wish we had these shared experiences so I could talk about them and let the winds of laughter fill the room to carry this tiny spirit to Heaven.

But those things are denied us. This journey did not end the way we all wanted. Sadness threatens to overwhelm us. And I guess it could remain that way if we let it. We can mourn our loss forever. We can question the wisdom of a God who denied Carleigh even a single breath of the air we breathe. We can fill the garden of our life with bitter roots and hide behind a wall of self-pity. But this day, no matter how sad, is a gift to each of us. We are witness to so many positive things. And at least for me, Carleigh being denied a chance at life has reminded me just how special and precious our time on earth is. It just seems the best way to remember Carleigh is to talk about the journey that brought us to this celebration of the life we have.

I wish I could find the words that Holly had posted on her blog initially. As I recall, she welcomed people to the journey she and Anthony had undertaken and I believe she made a statement along the lines "only God can sustain us". That was touching to me. I have to believe the news that Carleigh had little chance to survive would have tested the faith of even the most devout Christian. But Holly and Anthony surrounded themselves with others who shared their belief that this was part of a supreme plan. That community of support carried them to this day. I told Holly her blog was a way to sow cyber seeds of love. But it was also a pretty effective way to share their faith. Their faith is strong. Their faith is inspiring. I know it will carry them in the months and years to come.

I was talking with my son the other day about the difference between right and wrong choices. Lucas said the one thing that stood out to him was the choices Holly and Anthony made. He talked about how often he has attended a funeral and overheard someone wish they had spent more time with the deceased or expressed regrets about the choices they made in their interactions with the deceased. Then he said something profound. He said Holly and Anthony can live the rest of their lives without regrets about their time with Carleigh.

He is right. Can you imagine, after the incredible trials they have faced, they can live the rest of their lives without any regrets? They are heartbroken now, yet they guaranteed themselves a guilt-free life by seizing the moment, making the moral choice, and taking the difficult path. At any point during this journey they could have looked for an easier answer. But they knew nothing would spare them the pain and anguish they have today. The other choices were unacceptable because it would have denied them time with Carleigh. I think Grandpa John said it best when he told me, "It was tough but I wouldn't have missed a minute of it." Neither would anyone else who knew Carleigh's story.

I have to be honest, when I first hear that Holly was going to use the internet to share their story I was pretty skeptical. Maybe it is my age or maybe it is just my very private nature, but I could not imagine being so open about something like this. I could have recited dozens of arguments against the idea.

Fortunately, Holly never asked my opinion. Sharing Carleigh's story directly helped several people who are facing the same difficult journey. Sharing their story educated hundreds of people about anencephaly and helped removed some of the stigmas. Sharing their story triggered a desire in others to share in kind. And share they did. Anyone who followed the blog knows Holly was constantly surprised by the generosity of people she will never meet in person. There was an outpouring of support that no one saw coming. And in a small way it restored my faith in the good of mankind.

If I could ask the many people who sent things for Carleigh why they did it I would receive a multitude of answers. But in the end they would all be saying the same thing: they gave because they wanted to. They gave because it made them feel good. That was eye-opening to me. You see, a friend of mine spent some time in Panama among the Kuna Yala people. He told me they have no words that translate into thank you as we know it. It is just not part of their culture because they believe if someone needs help we all have an obligation to help. You just do it. In their world there is no reason to express gratitude for something that everyone does. I have always thought those gifts and acts of kindness were the purest kind. Until I read Holly's blog I thought the Kuna Yala people were alone in the world. But there is actually a whole web of others who share this belief. Maybe we all have more in common than we think.

Viktor Frankl is a well-known psychiatrist who spent a lot of time researching the meaning of life and the role of man in the life we share. He said, "The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way-an honorable way-in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment."

Love is our salvation. Love can provide us with boundless joy. Remembering those we love can bring a sense of fulfillment no matter what our circumstances. When we can do absolutely nothing else, the memory of a loved one will always be there to comfort us. There is an undeniable comfort in knowing this.

Holly, Anthony, I am certain I can speak for everyone gathered here when I say thank you for sharing your faith. Thank you for showing us that no matter how busy our lives are the moral choice will always be the right choice. Thank you for sharing Carleigh and your journey.

6 comments:

nsrush83 said...

Holly, everytime I read your blog, I walk away in tears. I think about what you are going through and how you handled it in such a Godly manner. I wonder if I would have been strong enough to handle it with the grace and the Godly strength you did. I wish I could have done something for you. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers every single day.

Jodi Lansink said...

What a great writer----it was beautiful!

Betty said...

he is amazing with words. I wish I could convey things I feel like him. What a beautiful speech!

Jake and Stephanie Perrin said...

wow.. im in tears!! Your uncle did a wonderful job!! Those are some AMAZING words. Thanks for sharing those with us!! Take care and thanks again for sharing your journey with us.

Christina said...

I thought when I read the title of your blog that I would be crying my eyes out & oddly enough I wasn't. Reason: That was such a heartfelt eulogy from your Uncle Buck that I couldn't help but sit here with a peaceful smile on my face.

croleyc69 said...

Wow & so amazing words. He knows just what to say. I know that after everytime I read your blog I can feel the Lord. I pray for all of your families & I know that God is smiling down on all of you. Holly & Anthony will always have a special place in my heart for what choice you made. I know I may never meet you but I'm proud to have met you online. Prayers & Hugs

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