Typically it’s probably not the greatest timing to be reflective when speaking in front of a few hundred people at your friend’s memorial service. In fact, it’s probably downright dangerous. With a splash of crazy thrown in just for the fun of it.
But, as luck would have it, that’s exactly what happened to me this last Saturday. I was standing at a pulpit and about to speak on behalf of an extraordinary man, Chris Kent. I had my notes in front of me and was prepared to give a fairly safe accounting of what it was like to meet him and be friends with him back in the mid 1980s. But then I looked out at the people I was about to speak to. What I saw stopped me in my tracks. Friends. Family. Musicians. Community. Wow.
I was already a bit nervous to begin with, being one of just three people scheduled to speak. “Why me?” I thought to myself as I scanned the notes in front of me. I think I even said something similar to my wife as I sat next to her a few rows back from the front of the church. She squeezed my arm and told me not to worry – that I would know what to do when the moment arrived.
I’ve spoken in front of quite a few groups in the last few years but I’ve never felt honored in the way I felt to speak on my friend’s behalf. And so, I took a deep breath and put my notes to the side and did my best to relate the Chris I knew. The Chris that always made others feel welcome. The Chris that made us laugh. The Chris that made us hold our breathes in disbelief when he played the bass. The Chris that made us marvel at the depth of his faith. The Chris that inspired us to do better in our own lives.
Pat Rask sent a message via Facebook for a copy of the speech that I gave on Saturday. I can certainly send a copy of the one I wrote on paper but the one that was written in my heart is not so easy to reproduce.
Chris Kent, I hope I honored you, your family and your friends on Saturday. We will never forget you. Our lives have been made better by knowing you. Rest in peace friend.