The California Service
Simon’s Celebration of Life (sounds way better than funeral) was yesterday. It had a different vibe than the Texas services. Not better or worse, just different. The way folks dressed was brighter and more casual. There were less formalities. There were more tear filled eyes from friends and coworkers who were used to seeing him regularly, who were living life along side of him just weeks ago. And as one of the pastors said, in the most loving way possible, there were more “freaks.” That’s who Simon attracted. The souls who needed just a bit more love, or wanted deeper friendships, or were judged by others, or who were broken. It was not said in an offensive way, really. It was a compliment. To Simon and to us freaks.
The church was filled beyond capacity – easily over 500 people. A friend that attended the service wrote:
“Wow, the gathering of people – this looks like a funeral for a celebrity. A testimony to the way in which Simon touched peoples lives. A quote from one of the speakers here: Simon lived a life connected to God, loving people. I can personally testify what great genuine guy he was. Simon will be missed. ”
I agree. A simple man who loved Jesus and lived his life boldly should be what we deem a celebrity these days in this world.
One of the Eulogies was presented by the Scoutmaster from the local troop that our son was in. Simon had just begun helping out regularly and was looking forward to repeating many of the activities he did in his years of scouting. The Scoutmaster awarded Simon a posthumous Assistant Scoutmaster badge. Simon had also designed a Class B shirt for the troop but had not ordered it. The Scoutmaster called the company and was able to retrieve the design. The shirts arrived just hours before the service! In addition to those two items, I was presented with the American flag Simon had loaned the troop when he taught the cub scouts proper flag etiquette and folding.
The other Eulogies were perfect. They described Simon so poignantly. No BS. Fiercely loyal. Intentional. Persistent. He knew the clock was ticking from the day he was born and lived life fully, boldly, and wild about Jesus. The last speaker, our Pastor, gave a clear Gospel message. We’re hoping to post a video from the service soon but I could certainly get anyone in touch with our Pastor that has more questions about the message or this fellow named Jesus that has changed our lives and given us hope even in grief.
All three of our kids were given Build-a-Bear dolls from their classmates. The stuffed animals had specific accessories to remind them of Simon. Such a fun, age-specific gift that the kids were thrilled to receive. Here is our oldest son and daughter enjoying the gifts. No one could get our two year old to stay still enough for a picture!
One of Simon’s favorite coworkers had this to say about his experience yesterday:
“I had an amazing moment today at Simon’s celebration of life. Words cannot begin to describe this experience. I shared this awhile back but today I heard the rest of my own story. When I was at the beginning of my sobriety, and struggling to stay clean, I had called Simon and asked him to pray for me because I didn’t know how and, honestly, I didn’t know what else to do. I knew he had a faith in something bigger than him. So today, after the tears had been shed and things began to wind down at the church, I hear my name being called. I turn to this woman and am struggling to figure out who she is. I didn’t know her but she knew me. She said, “Simon loved you. He prayed for you all the time. We pray for you. He asked us to and many others. I had to come and talk to you and meet you.” I couldn’t believe it. A simple request to my friend, two years ago, was still being fulfilled by complete strangers. I never thought I’d get more than a few prayers from my friend not because I thought he didn’t care but just figured that was standard. To find out today that he continued to pray for me, and had cared so much that he asked others to pray for me, was moving. My heart is filled with immense gratitude for this man and these strangers that wanted nothing more than for me to find my strength and hope. Grateful.”
Thank you to all who came to the celebration and to the many, many folks that worked hard to make it so beautiful and meaningful. From the decor, to the carefully planned speeches, to the worship music, to the salty snacks and unsweet iced tea. Simon would have still thought it was all a big fuss but hey, it was important to the rest of us, honey.
In the stillness of this new day, with all the pomp and circumstance behind us, I received two really special notes.
A fellow widow wrote, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Your hard is different than my hard. God knows and He will bless you today. I can promise you.”
Our pastor wrote, “It’s the day after. I want you to know that we still love you and we are still here for you.”
I think we’re going to be okay.