This week has been a difficult one.
Three or so months ago a long time friend and co-worker was diagnosed with advance stage melanoma. Within a week of diagnoses he was told it was everywhere in his body except his brain. It only took a week longer for that to change. I often hear people say "it happened so quickly". I even experience "it happened so quickly" with my own dear dad. Once again "it happened so quickly". My friend, Joe, passed away Sunday evening. His funeral was yesterday. Joe was one of those guys who everyone loved. He was everywhere and knew everything about our parish and our parish family. Fr. Greg gave him a first class send off. During the eulogy Fr. called Joe "the boss", but more than that - a leader. When there was something needing to be done, he didn't direct, he led by doing, right alongside everyone else. As Fr. said it, when someone would ask where something was or how to do something, the inevitable answer was "ask Joe".
The funeral home Jim works for had Joe's funeral. The visitation was in church. So as Jim was getting things set up in preparation of the visitation, he was having trouble getting electricity to the lights on each side of the casket. A co-worker and Joe's son joined in trouble shooting. Jim finally said, "You know, the problem is the guy who knows the answer is in this casket". So they asked Joe and he told them to turn on the power strip.
I was wrong when I thought I was prepared for Joe's passing. I have seen him almost daily for 9 years, often only for a minute when he would bring the mail in or just pass through the church building. I can still see his slow, steady, walk as he moved from one task to another. He had slowed down a lot the past few years, and I even found myself getting frustrated at the amount of things that weren't getting done, but Joe always gave as much as he possibly could. The finality of his death hit me as we walked to the cemetery... and it was gut wrenching. My friend, JoAnn, looked at me and said, "I want him back", then we held each other, sobbing.
I want him back.