Real Funerals

A Proper Send-Off for Richard

Richard was part of a tightly knit theater community, and was taken away from his friends and family far too young. Before his death he had injured his vocal chords in an accident, so for his last years was no longer able to sing in the musical theater productions that he loved.

Friends personalized his funeral service. On tables they used iconic possessions – paintings he had done, favorite books, signature clothing, his beloved boots – to create altars that recalled his vibrant presence. They filled the room with candles. It was nearly Valentine’s day, so they scattered foil wrapped chocolate hearts and flowers like confetti throughout the room. On a projector screen ran a silent loop of Richard, acting in plays and in home videos.

People took turns reading poems that Richard loved or that the family requested. Guests were invited to walk among the tables, and to speak. There were lots of great "Richard stories" revisited.

At one point a young man stood up and began to sing "On the Street Where You Live." This was one of the last songs Richard had performed. The singer’s tenor was spotty with emotion, threatening to break. Out of nowhere, an incredible soprano joined in, bolstering and lifting the first voice, like some kind of angelic presence. More voices joined in, until nearly the whole room was supporting the two strong leads, singing along.

At the end of the memorial, someone started clapping. More people joined in, and soon there was a spontaneous standing ovation. There was hooting and hollering and pounding of the floor. Afterwards several of the attendees said how present Richard felt then – how they could hear him muttering slyly, "It’s about time…"