Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Saying Goodbye

When it comes to the passing of a friend or family member, we all choose to say goodbye differently.  Not only do we have a different way to say goodbye, we also choose to say goodbye at different times.  I helped bury one of my best friends this past weekend but I chose to say goodbye well before the funeral.

I chose to say goodbye to my friend, James Pointer, by talking to him throughout the week with a little 2Pac playing in the background.  I decided to have general conversations with him about things we would have normally been talking about.  So I took time out during the days leading up to his funeral to make sure we would have time to talk over all of the topics.

We talked sports.  It was mostly about the NFL.  We talked about how our Cowboys were going to do this season.  Of course he was a lot more optimistic about their chances than I was.  He always erred on the side of positivity (not a bad trait to have).  And he was REALLY positive about the Titans chances this season.  I wanted him to be right but couldn't bring myself to be swayed by his ideas about the team.

We talked about the NBA.  I asked him who was going to win between the Heat and OKC in the finals.  He said the Heat.  I said OKC.  (He was right. Blah, blah, blah.)  I also took that time to tell him something about basketball that I never said while he was alive.  I finally told him that when we used to play ball in the park he was no Michael Jordan.  (I know he liked to think he was, but he wasn't.)  He laughed and told me something HE had been holding on for a couple of decades as well.  He told me I was no Magic Johnson.  We both agreed that the other was right and that we just liked playing ball.

We talked about women.  This was a pretty short conversation because neither of us know anything about women.  (Who does???) We both have a lot of female friends but I think that was more out of accident than by design.  We did come up with one thing, though.  When you have that special someone... you do everything you can to make sure they stay that way.  You don't let any person, any law or any church tell you who you should or shouldn't be with.  In the end, you don't have to answer to any of the people trying to keep you apart.  Too many people go through life without finding that special person.  So, when you do, you don't let that person go.  Even though life is short it becomes WAY too long to live with that kind of regret you have from letting someone slip through your fingers.

We talked friends.  He did most of the talking during this portion of the conversation.  I would almost say that it was a monologue.  He was FAR better at making friends and treating them the way they should be treated.  So I mainly kept my mouth shut.  He explained to me that friends must be loved unconditionally.  If you accept someone as a friend then they must be loved.  He didn't care about race or gender.  He didn't care about sexual orientation.  He didn't care about religious or political affiliations.  If you gained his respect and trust, you had a friend for life.  I have always shared the same sentiment as he but he was much better at showing it.

We talked family.  We both think that there are very few things in this world more important than family.  But the standard definition of family doesn't always apply.  Sometimes, you have friends who are more family than family.  But a strong and supportive family base can make the starting point for something great.

We talked about so much more.  Some stories I might share at a later date.  Others I will keep between Mr. James Pointer and myself.  But the conversations we had while he was alive as well as after his passing will continue to strengthen me for the rest of my life.  There are a few OTHER conversations I would like to have with a couple of other people, though.

I would like for his mom (VC) to know:  I can't imagine what you are going through.  I know everyone tells you it will be ok.  And that statement always creates a conflict between what your head thinks and your heart feels.  But there is one thing that should help in the healing.  You should be able to take some solace in that you brought such a wonderful person into this world.  Being a father, that's all I think I can ever ask for.  When you looked around at the funeral, you didn't see just people there to make an appearance.  You saw people who were truly touched and positively influenced by your son.  You saw people who were saddened by his passing and at the same time happy about having known him for whatever time they had with him.

I would also like to apologize.  I tried for YEARS to get him to move out of Shelbyville.  He had such hopes and dreams.  He also had the mind and social skills to make that happen.  But I knew he would never reach those dreams in Shelbyville.  So, for a long time, I tried to get him to move to a larger city to fulfill his dreams.  It wasn't until the last 2 years that I quit trying.  But I didn't quit out of defeat.  I quit because I finally realized that he didn't want to leave you, Max and the rest of his family and friends.  And the thing is... at first glance it would sound like he was being held back by his love for his family.  But if you know James you can see that he was actually being BUILT UP by the love for his family.  James might have filled in the walls and bought all of the furniture but you, being his mother, built his base, his foundation and his structure.

I would like for his brother (MP) to know:  James was always proud of everything you did.  I can't remember him EVER saying anything that could be thought of as negative or even disappointing when he referred to you.  He wanted to make sure he set a good example for you growing up.  And as you got older, it seemed like he became closer to you.  He went from being you older brother setting and example to just being your brother and enjoying how you put everything together to become your own person.  He absolutely LOVED that you made him an uncle.  And he wanted to be there for every milestone with you, your wife and his nieces and nephews.  He just really thought the world of you .  

I would like for his uncle (JB) to know: I can't imagine anyone else in the world delivering a better eulogy.  You were the perfect choice.  The fact that you really KNEW him made all of the difference.  He always wanted us 3 to get together to just sit and run our mouths.  There was never a time when we were hanging out that he didn't mention something you said or did.  That is especially true over the last 5 or 6 years.  You were a great influence on him and he probably had more respect for you than anyone else in his life.  Whenever we talked I could always count on finding out what "JB" says about things.  It was never presented or received as a negative thing.  I hate that I never took him up on the offer to hear your words in person while he was alive.  But listening to your words upon his passing it sounds like it was truly my loss.  Everything he said about you was right.

I would like for the rest of his family and friends to know... One VERY true statement about James really stood out to me from the eulogy.  And that was that James NEVER gossiped.  He always told the good stories about each and every person he spoke about.  Even when things weren't going so well, he would not stoop as far as to pass on negativity.  So, if there was something to be worked out, you could count on him working it out directly with you.  Yeah, he talked to me about things when he was troubled.  But it was always said with respect for the person he was talking about.  He loved each of you and would easily have traded his last breath to make sure you had another one.  That's just how he was.  And as his uncle JB said, he lived  HIS life HIS way.  That is just how he will be remembered.

And when the funeral I wanted to tell everyone these things.  I wanted to go talk to his mom.  There were some of James' family members I wanted to speak to for a few minutes.  I really wanted to talk to several of our mutual friends. But after they lowered James into the ground I became quieter.  I decided to not really talk to anyone after that point.  And it wasn't that I was being antisocial.  It wasn't that I was being rude or anything like that.  I had already said goodbye.  I felt I needed to give everyone else the opportunity to do the same.