The morning was beautiful. The sky was blue, the temperature was in the low 60s and the refreshing mountain breeze put a nip in the air that made me wonder how this could possibly be the middle of summer. But this was northern California, so this may be the norm for this part of the country.
It would have been the perfect day if it hadn’t also been the day I said goodbye to a dear old friend for the last time.
I’ve never been good at funerals. I had hoped that as I got older I would be a bit more composed at them, but the truth is it’s been just the opposite. I can now be classified as terrible at funerals.
Then again, this one was different. I could tell by the way the morning started. I left my hotel room for a run and immediately found a penny on the ground. I took that as a good sign. I’ve written before that I put every penny I find into my grandson’s college fund and know that in time his education will be put to good use; perhaps he’ll even become a doctor and find a cure for cancer.
As for my run, I followed the sidewalks of San Ramon and ultimately ran up a dirt path that led me to the foothills of the mountains running alongside the city. The mountain breeze was refreshing; the view simply spectacular. I’ve always envied people living in California because of their access to well-groomed mountain trails that seemingly go on forever. Although my time on them was limited on this day, I was on them long enough to know why my dear old friend loved the area in which he chose to settle down so many years ago.
After I showered and dressed, I left my room for the funeral, and not far from where I found the penny earlier I discovered another one. I took that as a good sign as well. My dear old friend was a victim of brain cancer; maybe in the next lifetime there will be a cure.
The service was beautiful. The pastor’s words were eloquent, and I could tell he knew my dear old friend well because each and every comment was on the mark.
The cemetery was at the foothills of the mountains whose paths I had run on earlier that morning. I couldn’t envision a more perfect final resting place for my dear old friend.
Everyone at the cemetery was given a flower from one of the arrangements and was asked to think of a fond memory of the deceased and toss it on top of the casket as it was lowered into the ground. It was at that moment I realized just how terrible at funerals I have become; I was a wreck.
After the service (and after I regained my composure) the family and friends gathered at a restaurant that had been a favorite of my friend and his wife. I was honored when the widow requested that I sit beside her.
As I was getting ready to leave for the airport, she and I embraced; neither of us seemed able to pull away. She captured the moment when she told me a part of her husband was inside me and she didn’t want to let go.
I understood perfectly. It was eerily similar to the feeling I had when I tossed the flower on the casket earlier…
…the feeling that a part of me had died with him.
Scott Ludwig lives, runs and writes in Senoia with his wife Cindy, three cats and never enough visits from his grandson Krischan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His books can be found on his author page on Amazon.