I Should Have Said Something
Grand County, Colorado
I recently attended the funeral of close friend and business colleague Dave Cardenas. His passing was unexpected and hit close to home for many of us as we are about the same age and have known Dave for many years. A few days after his passing, we gathered for his memorial service.
We filed quietly into the chapel, smiling and waving to those we recognized and consoling each other along the way. We shared stories and recalled the fond memories we shared about our friend Dave. My colleague was a good man, well liked by many and known to almost everyone who was employed with us. In no time, the number of people grew until all of the seating was filled and people spilled over into the lobby and reception areas of the chapel. Many friends and family members were there, and I could tell by the number of people in attendance that Dave had touched the lives of many people.
Soon the service began, facilitated by a member of the clergy and accompanied by beautiful music and eulogy. Then came a point in the service when the priest asked if there were any in attendance who would like to say a few words about our friend, perhaps share a story or fond memory. Since most of us in the room were technology geeks, not known for our public speaking abilities, it was no surprise that we didn’t see a stampede of people to the podium. Surely we all had many fond memories of our beloved friend and had laughed and shared stories about him many times before. There was no doubt that many hearts were broken when he passed on, but still, no one stepped forward.
That morning before the funeral I had sensed that an open forum would be offered during the service. I had even rehearsed what I might say about Dave, but I didn’t step forward either. Unfortunately, I don’t have the excuse that some of my colleagues had as I am quite comfortable with public speaking and had done so many times. From my seat I felt the pull to go to the front of the chapel and break the ice for my cohorts. I could start with some witty story about how Dave and I share a unique connection ” we were both born in Los Alamos, N.M., (home of the atomic bomb) and as a result of our common home town’s heritage, we both glow in the dark. But I didn’t. I remained seated along with everyone else. I’m sure had I gone to the front and said a few words, others would have followed.
I should have said something.
Honestly, I’m not riddled with guilt as I know that Dave knew how I felt about him. We had known each other for many years and had shared some good times. I just find it interesting that I didn’t stand up to say something about him in public. But maybe all that needed to be said was communicated by my presence at his service and shared in my friendship with him while he was here with us.
The uncomfortable silence in the chapel was finally broken by the priest who asked one last time if anyone wanted to come forward to share a story about our departed friend. And still no one accepted the invitation.
As the service ended, we all filed outside of the chapel into an unseasonably warm Denver afternoon. We lingered for almost an hour outside the chapel reconnecting with friends and former co-workers. Then many of us shared a few more stories elsewhere. Despite the circumstances of the event, it was a wonderful reunion of friends there to remember a special friend. But then again, that’s how it always was with Dave. Anytime we were together it was a time of laughter and some good stories . And so it was this day.
Perhaps I didn’t need to say anything at all that day. Perhaps I was pressuring myself to be the leader and conform to some decorum that didn’t need to be there. Maybe it’s just that those moments to share something with or about someone are fleeting and I missed an opportunity to communicate how special someone had been in my life. But then again, all of us were there to remember him and that’s all that needed to be said.
We will miss you Dave, and thank you for the way you touched all of our lives. I will always remember our unique connection … each time I find myself glowing in the dark.
Be well, be strong, and rest in peace, dear friend.
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