This is the eulogy I wrote for my Daddy's memorial service. I have a feeling it will be shaping me for many years to come.
November 7, 2012
Carbon…it’s at the heart of all life on earth.
It is the unique structure of the carbon atom that allows it to make connections and chains that allow LIFE to be possible. It is present in all living things.
So we find that everything that has ever lived…every tree, every fern, every dinosaur and wooly mammoth – has left behind traces of carbon in our earth.
Left alone, carbon does not seem very extraordinary.
Perhaps the most common form of compressed carbon we know is coal. Coal is very useful to us, but it looks quite ordinary…sometimes even a bit messy.
...But when pressed,
When pressed with enough intensity,
Coal begins to shine.
Coal, when left un-mined, undergoes such tremendous pressure in the earth – it becomes more and more refined – until it forms what all of humanity would embrace as the picture of purity and strength….the diamond.
Why do I share this story?
You may know we have walked a difficult road over the last few months with my dad’s health. But those of us closest to my dad saw something beautiful, something miraculous, happen – even in the middle of all his pain. It is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life as a lesson learned from my Daddy.
A week and a half before he passed, my dad was told by his doctors that a complication with his stent had caused a problem that could not be treated or cured. They sent him home and told him they could do nothing more.
This news was so disheartening after all he had done to complete his chemotherapy and radiation treatment. I imagine this news was HEAVY – like the weight of the world pressing on him.
And in that moment – under that great pressure…
My Daddy began to shine.
I have loved talking with some of Daddy’s brothers and sisters about this, and realizing that we all saw the same thing happen with my dad.
His complaints (which I think would have been completely justified)…ceased. I never heard him complain, even in the worst pain attacks.
His differences with others…were erased. (It seemed he began to refer to almost everyone as a ‘brother’)
His focus – did not turn inward on himself, but outward on those he loved most. His precious wife. His daughter. His family and friends. His only concern was that WE would be okay.
If he had a difference with anyone, he called them to make it right. He became a peacemaker. Getting his relationships right became his highest priority.
We heard nothing but words of kindness rolling of his tongue…words of pride for his wife, for me, for my two little boys. He loved to say, “That Pax, he is a good natured little booger. …that Beckett is a little buddy.”
There are beautiful rooms at MD Anderson with grand pianos, and Daddy asked me to bring my piano music so he could hear me play last weekend. It was hard work for him to walk there and to sit on the couches while I played, but he clapped after every song, and told anyone who would listen, “That’s my daughter. She can tickle them ivories!” He had such pride in his family.
My dad was already known by many for his sense of humor, but, this, too, was taken to a new level in his last weeks.
Alan and I were talking about this one night – and kind of marveling at how my dad had been able to handle this most difficult and stressful situation with such grace, such love and concern for others, such humility and even humor.
And what I’d like to suggest to you today is…
Maybe we do.
We are all made up of the same stuff. We are all made in the image of the same God.
This tells me that all of us carry this design for becoming something greater – for shining like diamonds – as my Daddy did under pressure.
As we walk through these coming days of grief – and any other troubles that surely will come our way – I hope I will remember – I hope you will remember – this lesson from my dad –
That though we may be PRESSED, we are not crushed. Though we are STRUCK DOWN, we are not destroyed.
In fact, through our troubles, we can be refined to shine like diamonds – to become even more pure in our love for others.
I’d like to close with a reading from 2 Corinthians –
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in us.”