Friday, August 17, 2012

A Friend's Funeral

Today I attended the funeral of a friend.  Chris and I served together in the Canadian Forces (now the Royal Canadian Airforce) for 15 years. We worked along side each other, we took each other's positions as one or the other moved. We didn't always get along, but we always respected each other. I knew what drove Chris, where he was coming from, and how he was likely to be in any given situation, and I suspect he knew me in the same way.

Chris retired first, and then came back as a Reserve member, then I retired and didn't come back. The last time I saw Chris he was driving by me sometime in March of this year. It was late, a little after 5pm and he was in his uniform driving home from work. That time of year is personnel review time, and I smiled and waved. We shared a quick glance, but there was a full conversation in it. He was tired and had been working late to try to get caught up. We both knew I could feel his pain, and his pride in doing right by his people, and we both knew I was glad I wasn't the one who had the kind of day he must have had. When you know someone for that long, well you just know them. A glance is all it takes to get everything across.

Since then I've wanted to call Chris to have a coffee, but you know how that goes. Intentions never get anything done. I never did call him, and we never had that coffee. I never got to tell him that I'm proud he was continuing on and that I know he was doing right by his people. I never got to tell him that I'm proud he was doing a great job.

Today I sat as far from my old military colleagues as I possibly could. I did look over and sort of long to be part of the family again, but I wasn't there to see them.

As I sat there looking at Chris' flag covered coffin I couldn't believe his body was really in it. His dress uniform hat was laying on top. I had worn that hat once, when he discovered that mine was dirty just before I was to go see the Wing Chief Warrant Officer. I was just going to wear my hat, but Chris gave me that look and said "I don't knooow Kevin... " Even now I can hear his voice in my head; a bit of gravel in it, chastising me and warning me of impending doom.

The military Chaplain started to speak, and to be honest I really don't feel like getting into what he said. It was a mix of Roman Catholicism and humanism... He did however pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, so while I didn't actually agree with a lot of what he said I couldn't help but say my amen.

I'll be heading out to preach the Gospel to lost sinners on the streets of my city tonight. My heart is heavy, my stomach is sickly, I'm exhausted.

I know that Chris had heard the Gospel from me, and from at least one other Brother. What I don't know is if he ever actually believed it. The Chaplain made it seem like Chris was the Lord's servant, and would be welcomed home. Perhaps he knew something I didn't about my friend.

That's the day I've had.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your loss. You know the Lord Jesus is the great comforter of course.

Perhaps the minister did know something about him.