I want to say first, thank you for being here to celebrate my father’s life. As the poet Khalil Gibran wrote, “You would know the secret of death. But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?”
He is right. Death is impossible to understand by itself, unless we understand it as something defeated. It is defeated by the life we all remember, and we remember my father as so many things: a man of the world, a consummate businessman, a man who would always choose what is right over what is easy, the most loving and fun dad that two kids could ever wish for. Most of you know that my dad never got terribly flustered by anything — he once was upgraded to business class on British Air for being such a cool customer during a two-day delay — and he would just tell the story of what happened to him with his inimitable, gentle irony. So in the last couple of days after his sudden departure, I’ve been unable to shake the feeling that he will be at the kitchen table the next morning drinking coffee, and saying of his passing: “Wow, that was weird.”
These memories ensure that, for us, he will never truly be gone. But these memories depend upon our own existences, which are as tenuous as his was. I know that my dad’s true hope was in something beyond just the remembrance we give him today. In the Gospels, Christ tells us that “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Once again, we can only understand death in its relation to life: it is the beginning of something infinitely greater than the life we have known. We down here cannot know what that country is like, but my dad knows. The last time I spoke with him on the phone, he sounded truly happy; he sounded like a man who understood the way the world works. How beautiful it is to think that that was not his final happiness, but rather a mere foretaste.
I wish we could do him justice with our words, but I know it is impossible. So I will leave you with the last thing my father ever wrote to me, in a perfectly businesslike email: “adios mi amigos.” It’s in the plural, so I like to think it was for all of us. Please remember him in your prayers. Thank you.