When my father died there were no testimonials at the funeral service. Aside from a few remarks of the priest, no one stood and spoke for my father. When I asked the priest about this later, he pointed out that there would be plenty of opportunity to talk about my dad at the wake and in the weeks to come, but the service was a time to think about God’s words. It is an argument that I understand, but it I think that’s God’s words could only be enhanced by the memories of a man that we knew and loved.
So today I stand up for JoAnn Gunter. I never met JoAnn, but came to know her through her amazing daughter Buffy Hamilton. With Buffy as our intermediary JoAnna and I cheered each other on through our trials with cancer. This weekend JoAnn died of pancreatic cancer.
Today I stand for Joanne Silverstein, my dearest friend and closest colleague who died of breast cancer. I stand for Jeffry Katzer, a mentor through my Ph.D. program who died of prostate cancer. I stand for Jill Abdo, mother to my son’s best friend who succumbed to colon cancer. I stand for Grandmother Anne Goodman who died of colon cancer, and my Grandmother Dottie who died of leukemia.
I stand as someone who has fought with cancer and as someone who will remember you. Someone who says your life was important. I stand to remind those who remain that life can be hard. I stand to remind everyone that cancer takes and takes and takes. I stand to remind everyone that no matter how much we are loved, or how much good we seek to do, we all can be taken too soon.
Yet I also stand to remind all of us to be brave. That while darkness has taken these beautiful people, it is because of the light they added to our lives that we remember them. To remind all of us that to mourn is natural, but so is celebration. Take time today to stand and celebrate those in your life who you have lost, who you will miss, those who made your life better. Stand today; stand still if just for a moment, and celebrate those people in your life who are gone, but remain a part of you.