It was Monday, June 23rd, 1986, Father Joe called shortly after Marilyn passed. During our short conversation Joe passed on this message – “Mike wants you to perform his wife’s funeral service – it’ll be Wednesday morning.” “Of course, Joe,” I said and then thought, Wednesday, June 25th – my birthday. Tuesday afternoon I dedicated time to putting thoughts and words together, they would be an attempt to both honor Marilyn and comfort Mike. As I developed the service, especially my “words,” I placed myself in Mike’s position as if I had lost my Chris. As I wrote I cried – let me share those long-forgotten words with you.
“I remind all those gathered here today of how much you are loved, and how privileged we were to know and be loved by Marilyn. She has moved on. She’s no longer with us in a physical sense, however know this – she is not gone. Above all things Marilyn was open to love, she accepted whoever God placed in her path, cared for anyone who came into her embrace. If she were here today she’d tell each of you that you remain in her love, a love which was bound by hope and faith.
“Mike, I understand the depth of your love and sorrow for both of us are blessed with life’s greatest gift, someone we love beyond explanation, someone who loves us, perhaps even more in return. Marilyn has died, you can shed many tears and cry yourself to sleep each night or you can smile more than ever because she was the foundation of your life and love – she’s not gone – she’ll linger here in your heart.
“In the dark times – and there will be dark times – you can close your eyes and pray for her return as if she was somehow borrowed by God or you can open your eyes wide and see all that she has done, for you and for those many gathered here. You have a choice, because she has moved on, your heart can be empty and bound in loneliness – or you can recall the love she brought into your life and the fullness of hope and faith you shared. Hope never dies – the warmth of faith’s kiss never dies, and love’s embrace never dies nor grows cold.
“Just three-years ago, after we lost Christi, I can recall asking myself what I would do if my Chris left this life before me. My single thought was ‘for me’ as I answered, “I’d want to die”. But then a voice came from the living room, ‘Daddy can you come here and help me with my homework.’ That voice, just like those of the family which loves and surrounds you – brought me back to this reality: Chris has taught me how to love, how to laugh and how to enjoy the gifts we brought into this world together. Marilyn would ask no less of you Mike – she’d ask you to live and love.
During these next weeks, perhaps months, I want you to cry. Just call out my name and I will cry with you. But Mike, never forget the words she whispered to you so many times, ‘I love you, I need you, you complete me.’ If our faith teaches us anything it is this, life goes on for nothing dies, there is no beginning and there is no end. Each night, after living a full and joy-filled day, close your eyes and listen to the soft voice echoing in your heart and you will hear Marilyn’s whisper, ‘I love you – I love you.’ Mike – she is here (touch heart).