Have you ever laughed out loud at a funeral? Ever applauded wildly? Me neither, until today. But then I have never been to a funeral that was planned right down to the last detail by my friend Pat, who is probably one of the coolest people I’ve ever known.
Briefly, I will tell you that Pat was 71 years young. I know that sounds cliche, but it’s true in her case. She loved God and she loved people in big, generous, outrageous ways. I suppose one of the advantages, if you could call it that, of knowing you’re going to die is that you get to say what’s important; what matters. When I visited Pat, we didn’t talk about the weather, we talked about how much we meant to each other. She didn’t spend time mourning a life that she should have lived. She gave specific instructions as to how she wanted her funeral to proceed.
My job was simple. She had asked her kids to each reach a chapter from the Book of Psalms. If they started to falter and couldn’t go on, I was to go up there and finish the reading. It turns out that wasn’t necessary, but I was ready and able if needed.
The place was packed full of people, all of whom loved her. Can I just say that you couldn’t help but love this woman unless your heart is made of stone? Darren Walter (the pastor of Pat’s church – formerly my church) opened the service with a prayer and the usual “survived by” stuff. He’s a great guy and he did a great job. He shared with us that Pat told him, “Well, you’re no Pastor So-and-So , but you’re a good kid.” You never needed to ask Pat what she really thought. That was pretty much whatever came out of her mouth.
Another specific request she made was that the song “Days of Elijah” was to be sung. And it was to be sung by Jeff Hogan. Fortunately, we (C3) have a very good relationship with our old church, so that was not a problem. Jeff and Tamara rocked that song. Then a wonderful retired preacher by the name of Brother Wayne sang “Amazing Grace” in his big, booming beautiful southern gospel voice.
Her children and one of her grandchildren read the scriptures she had requested. Her daughter Cari spoke lovingly about some of the things that made Pat such a wonderful, loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend.
Now for the best part. Cue the video. Pat made a video before she died from her bed. It was classic Pat. She told us how much she loved us, and not to be sad for her. She shared the story of the 3 dreams she had of heaven. Said it was God’s way of putting her at peace. She had absolutely no doubt in her mind that there is a heaven and she would soon be there.
That was the theme for her funeral. That was her dying wish. She wanted everyone within earshot to know that heaven is a real place, and that she fully expected to see all of us there.
I look forward to that day.
At the close of the service, on an unseasonably beautiful day in Katy, Texas, we released 71 white balloons towards heaven.
Spot on perfect funeral.