Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Today, I went to the funeral of my neighbor. The priest shared with the congregation a theory. He explained that some people believe we enter this world as an empty battery. We spend our lives filling it up and when we are fully charged, we die. Others believe, he said, that we come into this world with our battery fully charged and when all our juice is gone, it's time for us to die.

I may be 46, but this was only the second funeral I'd attended and the first where I was actually friends with the deceased. (I know, I've managed to get away with it until now.) I am not the type to cry in public. At my kids' kinder and elementary graduations, and other emotional milestones, I am often one of the few dry eyes amongst a river of tears and soggy kleenex. Today, I thought, would be no different. But the minute I walked in and spotted Steve's handsome, youthful face smiling from the pile of wallet-sized photos the family had made for the guests, I knew I was wrong.

Steve's childhood friend and brother recalled details of the life he led which made the reality of why we were gathered all the more incomprehensible. Steve was loved by so many. He was one of those people who lived life to the fullest. As a child, he led the kids on his block, always inspiring and pushing them to make the most out of even the smallest, most boring moments. He remained that way as an adult. I had tried in the last week to make sense of his death. To wrap myself around and find comfort in intellectual reasoning. These stories weren't helping.

Why would someone so vibrant, so loved, give up? Leave his family to go on without him and create such hardship? His childhood friend said it best when he remarked that all those close to Steve knew that he loved them, knew that he loved life. He said that many, including himself, were struggling with feelings of anger and confusion. He suggested we all find some comfort in knowing that Steve, in the last few months, was no longer the Steve they knew. He was someone entirely different. The person they knew, the person they loved, who loved them, would never have done anything so selfish.

I think that's the only way I can truly digest this. To believe that Steve's brain was no longer his own. That he had been overtaken by a dark, corrupting force that was more powerful than he. Steve was a fighter. If he could have won this battle with his demons, we all must know, he would have.

In terms of the priest's analogy, it sounds like Steve was a member of the group that began life with their battery full. He just used up his juice faster than his loved ones would have liked. I, on the other hand, think I'm a member of the group that starts out empty and charges their battery up slowly over time. So, I'm going to pick up my kids from school and take them out for ice cream. I might even actually cook dinner. My battery needs some charging.


InTheFastLane said...

I like to think that I am a rechargeable battery that wears down sometimes, but then gets filled back up. But, eventually my battery won't charge anymore.

I think you are on the right path with Steve. My thoughts go out to his family.

Anonymous said...

Hug your kids, kiss your spouse, cherish your family/friends because each day with them all is truly a blessing. This one hit hard, so I only hope that Steve's death will serve as an inspiration to choose the life you want to live.

Manic Mommy said...

The battery theory is a new concept for me. The preist and the friend seemed like they did a good job of applying sense to a senseless act. I hope it helps - everyone.

Two funerals? You must not be Catholic.

Sending a little juice your way.

MamaGeek said...

I'm sending a little juice your way too. I'm so incredibly sorry. This was such a endearing tale.

Dawn said...

What a simple, but meaningful analogy. It makes perfect sense.

I think I'm also a rechargeable battery. I've been getting used up a lot, but if I just remember to do the things I love, appreciate the people and love in my life, I get recharged.

Maybe the good that comes out of Steve's death is that people he touched all learn to get their batteries recharged and realize that no problem is that bad.

Take care.

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