Yesterday, I wore a big-ass black hat, à la Andie MacDowell. If you can’t rock a black hat at your husband’s funeral, when can you? It provided shade for a small village -- my village. The children could duck under it during the memorial mass, I could tip the brim down to hide my face, and when the time came to give the eulogy, I could raise the brim up to face the hundreds gathered to celebrate my husband as he carried my voice one more time.
For those who were unable to attend, these were the words I spoke:
“I am flanked by angels. The angels who walked the final weeks of my husband's life with me, held me up, both literally and spiritually. Janell and Telsche were going to speak in my place because I didn't think I would be able to, but Bob made me a promise before he passed. He promised that he would watch over me and that I would be strong enough to handle this without his physical presence.
My husband was fearless. Even though he fought to live, he did not fear dying.
Bob was the youngest of six children. He was also everybody's favorite. In theory this should have turned him into a spoiled brat. Instead, it gave him an immense capacity to love and strength of character. He knew who he was. If you didn't love Bob, the problem was with you, not him. And love him we did.
His capacity to love was rivaled only by his ability to make you laugh. Even in his final moments he was making us laugh. A few weeks ago, as we were somberly discussing his funeral wishes, he leaned back, gently closed his eyes and said, ‘When I picture my Jesus, he's front row, wearing a tuxedo t-shirt at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, because my Jesus is formal, but he likes to party.’
Bob never asked for his journey to be easy.
His infectious love of life will forever be the beauty that I see in the faces of our children in the years ahead.
Thomas Campbell said it best when he wrote, "To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die."
You will live in our hearts forever, Bob. I love you.”