A Friend’s Wake


Two weeks ago, I attended the wake of my friend and fellow board member, Al. Seeing his casket and the solemn quiet in the chapel, I wondered at the meaning of life and all its trappings.

Friend's wakeThe occasion was somber and the family was grieving. They received all his friends at a separate room, where everyone offered their condolences. After a while, everyone moved to the main chapel and the celebration of Al’s life was given. I learned more about Al and his life, family and businesses in that hour that I did while interacting with him over the years.
He had a full life and being close to 90 years old and quite active, he had worked and kept busy until the very end. His example is one of how I want to spend my later years, busy at ensuring that everyone who knows me is also touched by me in some way.
A celebration of life is always a spiritual experience for me. Seeing my friend dead, whom I have known alive stirs in me an awe that never fails to raise the question of what it means to be human.
In a prayer made next to my friend’s body, I reflected on the last time we had seen one another. On that occasion, we were about to join a board meeting for a non-profit we both belong to and quite ready to argue fine points of law. You see he was a tax lawyer and I’m a businessman.
We all make a mark in the world by the time we leave it and Al make a deep imprint judging by how many people attended his wake and how many things he did in his lifetime. He leaves a large family that will continue his legacy.
I have never been able to believe that human existence ends with death. I believe in an afterlife. There is something wonderful waiting for us in the other side. Be it heaven or a new life, it is just another part of our journey.