I usually keep things fairly anonymous here, because, well, real people versus real nuts on the Internet, but having someone like David be anonymous would somehow be a travesty. Because he was the antithesis of "anonymous." Yesterday I attended the funeral of a friend. He was, technically, my husband's friend, an ex-co-worker that he'd kept in touch with, or I should say kept in touch with him. Because that's what David excelled at. Keeping in touch. People meant something to him. Nobody was a "ship in the night."
I'm guessing there were over 250-350 people at his memorial, people standing and overflowing into an adjacent room. That's the kind of person he was. Given he was an architect, it seemed fitting that his memorial be held at Julia Morgan-designed chapel and the reception following at the U.C. Faculty Club (a Maybeck-designed building). This was the second memorial in a month that I've attended at the Faculty Club, and while I love that building, cripes, enough already!
David Lew was only forty-eight when he died; far too young as they say. Man, did he pack it in. While that's very true--and people kept saying that over and over again, like it was supposed to bring all of us solace, like a life spent watching soaps all day and eating Funyuns couldn't be compared to what an action-packed life David lived--it sure didn't offer any solace to either his parents or his wife, I wager. Because people like that leave a void.
He died of pancreatic cancer. My parents are medical types (as is my husband's father) and when David emailed us with his diagnosis, we looked at each other. A year, tops? David managed to eke out a really good two years. While the last six months were total hell, he weathered that like the enormously brave person he was, with humor and guts.
You can't help but personalize these events, and I kept thinking, how in the blue blazes is Sharon, his wife, holding up? Also, there was a wonderful slide show, which people contributed to, and I realized that my husband always takes the pictures. I'm not a camera person. That needs to stop. I need to start taking pictures. Not for the ghoulish purpose of having pictures for his memorial, but to give my husband a place at the various events in our lives. A place he deserves.
As always in these situations (which are happening more and more), I think about the people left behind. His parents must be in hell. If you have children you absolutely know that the worst thing in the whole fucking world would be to bury a child. Slight less but still hellish; burying a younger sibling. David was the much younger sibling of older siblings, and, yeah, talk about voids. There is a sense of natural order here that is being turned on its head. While the thought of my mother dying is enough to send me into suppressed hysterics (if one can have suppressed hysterics), it wouldn't be like losing my sister, whom I expect to pre-decease because, hey, natural order. I couldn't look at his parents and his brothers and sister without wondering if they felt their world was not only about grieving, but also about being profoundly off-kilter. Like the world's axis was off and the sun shutting down kind of off-kilter.
Then we come to David's wife, Sharon. Like all larger than life types who tend to whirly-gig through their days, David needed an anchor, and Sharon was his anchor. As I sat there with my husband, who handed me Kleenex at the appropriate moments (a wee tip; take Kleenex to funerals), I realized that Sharon had no one to hand her Kleenex at funerals. Or someone to hold her hand when it got too overwhelming. And yes, there were lots of people there for her (her sister has obviously been a total rock), but it's not the same. Of course you want someone to travel with and hold your passport when you're putting your shoes back on. And sit across the table from you while you both drink expensive wine in Parisienne brasseries. But it really all boils down to having someone hand you a Kleenex when you need it. THAT someone, not just anyone.
It was a sad day, despite the blue skies after a week of incessant rain, despite the daffodils in full bloom, despite the magnolia trees just starting to bud. A very sad day.