A friend's husband died last week. A sudden heart attack and he was gone. And while I know that I'm prone to exaggeration, I am not stretching the truth when I say he was one of the kindest men I have ever met.
I was handed hundreds of images of this wonderful man and asked to do something to explain his life visually. His wife cried in my arms, telling me about she trusted me to do this right. She said I'd take care of it. She said she trusted me to honor his memory.
It was too hard a project to work on alone. I needed someone to keep me focused as I was surrounded by 54 years of photos and the narrative that each image told and I needed space to work. It’s not an easy thing to call someone up and say, “hey…. I have a favor…..my friend…who you don’t know….well, her husband died…..no…you don’t know him either…..can I come over there and work on this project for his funeral?”
So....I created six presentation boards and made a huge mess. I watched lotsa Buffy, ate pizza and Krispy Kremes (at the same time even) and reflected on the life of a very kind man as I mapped out his life one photo at a time.
Working on this project was very emotional, haunting and strangely comforting. The boards turned out to be effective. His family thanked me. My friend (his wife) just broke down. It was so very strange being told "good job!" at a funeral - but I did what I needed to do. And I think it helped everyone just a little bit, too.
What I realized today, though, driving home from the funeral parlor that while one had family lost a very precious member this weekend, my family had grown by one.
Thanks Ryan for the coffee, the conversation and the companionship.