A friend of my husband's died last week and I had an opportunity to attend the funeral service. I didn't know the man who died, but I've heard many stories about him.
His name is Eric, and from what I gather he had a big personality. He got into mischief, and according to everyone who spoke of him he had a big, soft heart.
I don't often attend funerals for people I don't know so I'm not sure if this always happens, but the more I heard about Eric the more I wanted to know about him. I found myself feeling saddened for his friends and family, but I also felt disappointed that I never had a chance to know him.
This was also my first experience at an LDS funeral and it was very nice, as much as a funeral can be 'nice'. It was appropriately somber and inviting to the spirit, but also filled with a sense of love and peace for Eric, and for everyone who was suffering at his loss.
I felt a bit like an intruder, witnessing so much pain: his girlfriend in her devastation; members of the church who knew and counseled him; his family who had such kind things to say about him. Even though I didn't know Eric, I could feel that his passing left such a void in the lives of those who knew him.
I couldn't help but remember Colin in those moments; the pain of his death, and a life that seems ended far too soon.
One of the speakers at Eric's service, a bishop of the church who had served and helped Eric, commented that we are strangers here on Earth but in Heaven we know one another; that we are friends there, and we know each other so well and so deeply that we love everyone once we have returned to that spiritual "home". There is an LDS hymn that includes these lyrics: "no longer as strangers on Earth need we roam". These words hit me very deeply and are part of what is changing in me about how I feel about 'strangers'. I'm starting to understand how we can love people we don't know.
I wish I had had a chance to know Eric. I hope he is at peace where he is.