I attended a friend’s viewing just now. He was a special man. I should say “is” and not “was”. I haven’t really visited him in years so I felt it best to slip in, pay my respects and slip out. His family had wonderful mementos of his life, pictures of him smiling (not hard since that’s all I ever remember him doing) , scenes of him at the Junior High as the principle and various activities he has taken part in in his life.
After looking at these captured memories, my mind flooding with so much more, I approached the front of the room. Someone who must’ve known this great man handed me a lolly pop sucker. I’d forgotten that he loved those. A small group was standing in front of his coffin. I assume they were discussing his life and the many that he touched. I stepped closer to the feet end of the casket to take a peek.
It wasn’t him. No, I do not mean that in the literal sense. Yes it was the right funeral and yes it was the right man, but all I saw was a shell. It felt wrong to look at the body. Sure he looked peaceful, but something was missing.
Where was the jolly giant of a man who hugged me every time he saw me? Where was the spiritual giant who taught me so much, first as a fresh faced teenaged investigator who knew nothing of the gospel, then as a hopeful young missionary-to-be who chose him as a mentor who could escort me to the temple for the first time? Where was the man of God who knew by inspiration that miles away I was experiencing deep hurt and painful self doubts on my mission, and that it must be him who should write a powerful letter of encouragement, lifting my spirits and renewing my vigor?
Where was he? Well that’s an easy answer. Anyone who knew him, truly listened to him, observed him in life, knew that answer. He was elsewhere, with passed loved ones and with the Lord and God whom he dedicated his life to.
Good by President Killpack. May we forge ahead, living our lives as you have.