Last Saturday morning I was shocked and saddened to hear that one of our great neighbors has passed away. I thought he would be one of those older fellows that would be around forever. I didn't know Walt Kirshman all that well. I have been in the same ward as he for the last 8 years but I don't think that we have ever had a one-on-one conversation. But I have been in meetings and have been in Sunday School with him and he was just one of those unique (quirky... which I can say since his family said the same thing) men that I looked up to.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to his funeral. His grand-daughter Ellena goes to our ward and she is in the Young Women so Kristy knows her well. Kristy wanted to go to support Ellena and I wanted to go to support both Kristy and Ellena. It was said during the funeral that no one like to go funerals but I want to disclaim that. I like funerals for the fact that it is a celebration of that life and a time to reflect on the gospel and to find joy. I didn't know Walt all that much going in but coming out I felt like I knew him well.
The funeral was a great experience and I am so glad that I went. It was neat to sit next to other neighbors/ward members. It was great to hear all the funny experiences his family had and it was great to feel the Spirit. There were times that I felt myself on the verge of tears and that surprised me. Like I said, I didn't know Walt all that much. Sure I will miss his comments in Sunday School and I will greatly miss his testimony but it was not like we were close. But the musical numbers, especially the stirring rendition of Come, Come Ye Saints really hit home for me (it being one of my favorite hymns). Then Ellena got up and gave a beautiful poem she had written soon after he passed away. It was hard for me to keep my composure, you know I have to be a man and like not cry.
I don't regret going at all. It made me reflect on what my funeral would be like. His oldest son was the last speaker and he said that Walt did have one request for his funeral. When they wheel his casket out he wanted the song "When the Saints Go Marching In" to be played. As soon as his family got out and the rest of us guests left we could hear the song and we all smiled.
But then we got out and we saw that there was a live band playing it as they lifted his casket into the car. And I have to admit it, I lost it. I don't know why that hit me the way it did, but it certainly did. Kristy and I spoke to Ellena briefly and I found it hard to speak to her because I was overcome. And when Kristy and I found some of the Young Women in the parking lot, I really started to lose it. I have to admit that I felt a bit embarrassed. It was not that I was so sad, it felt like my heart was so full. Aside from my family, these are the people I want to be with. I don't know what it is about the Young Women here. Maybe it is because I have come to a realization that I may not have a daughter to call my own but I absolutely adore and care for these wonderful girls.
The last thing that I heard Walt say will stick with me forever. We were sitting in Sunday School and a comment was made of the picture of Christ that says " I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it." I have always liked this picture. Walt stuck up his hand and said that that picture had it wrong. If we lean on Christ, he said he would make our burdens light, therefore it would make it easy. It was things like this that he shared that made me appreciate him. He was such a funny guy and one never to hide his emotions. Maybe it was a good thing that I lost it at his funeral, it is fitting to say the least.
I am so thankful that I have gospel in my life. It puts the fun in funeral. I am not being flippant, this is the truth. I don't need to mourn since I know I will see them again. We are only going to be apart for a short while. One of the grand kids (a 5-year old) said he dreamt he saw Grandpa running back to heaven with Grandma. I can totally see that with Walt. I imagine that is what it will be like when I cross over to the otherside. I will be running to see people I have not seen in ages.