Eulogies are really a breed apart from the speeches and presentations one might typically deliver throughout their adulthood. The heightened emotions preceding the eulogy itself can leave the speaker dazed, exhausted and feeling unclear about what to do. If not prepared, the moment for exultation can dissolve into tears and broken sentences. No one really minds though.
Then again, if a person is prepared for the event, it’s a glorious time to sing another’s praises. Such was the case on Saturday, when my husband was able to give the best speech of his life (and he’s not usually eager to speak in public.)
We kept the script simple, and specifically did not try to be sweeping in scope. We chose stories and comments that were an organic fit for my husband…the ones he liked the best. It was lean, too…less is more. I had him go to the church the day before the funeral, in order to feel it and know what to expect…to do a run-through. I rehearsed him more than he wanted, but it paid off.
We sat down in the pew and I could feel his energy…he was calm and still There was no need to reassure him or check in with him. Five minutes before going on, he leaned over and whispered “I just thought of a good joke to start with…” and I knew then that he’d turned a corner in his life. He was at ease with what he was about to do.
He stepped up to the pulpit, and he owned that script. He took his time, and was totally present both with what he was saying, and who he was saying it to. It was perfect. When he finished, the service concluded, and as the casket was leaving the church, everyone burst into applause. It was the best possible goodbye, and I’ll never forget it.