Yesterday afternoon I visited the widow and three adult children of my friend, Uncle Bill. The children had flown in for his funeral. I shared with them the words I had written about him, which are printed below, and then we gathered together to hug, with a tear or two as we felt his absence. We wept because we knew in our heart of hearts that though he will always be with us in spirit, his tangible presence among us will be sadly missed.
Yesterday, Uncle Bill passed away after a long battle with cancer.
It was an extended goodbye, allowing us to put time on hold to remember and relish his life before he finally shed his body and freed his soul, entering into the realm of God’s infinite and eternal love.
Uncle Bill was as gentle in his goodbye as he was in all the rest of his life. He was a learned man and a thinker. But above all, he was compassionate. He suffered ignorance with tolerance and a pleasant demeanor. He was a gentleman, and a gentle man. As a husband, father, grandfather, and friend, he loved quietly and deeply, with a genuine heart and an immense soul.
As we honor Uncle Bill in all the remarkable and everyday ways we knew him, we must soldier on. He himself would thank us sincerely for our pause, but would also say “Do not linger,” because he knew that there will be a time and a meeting for us all when we will never have to say goodbye again. Godspeed Uncle Bill.