Just for the record, just in case I forget or don’t get around to it later, I want everyone to know: you are all welcome to come to my funeral. Everyone. Well, almost everyone. Here’s the deal: you have to behave yourself. You can’t come and use my funeral as an opportunity to be rude, mean, disruptive, unpleasant or otherwise behave yourself in some uncomely manner. Otherwise, you’re welcome.
If you want to, come share an embarrassing story like the one about the time when I went out to practice basketball (while the cheerleaders were practicing at the other end of the gym) and I had on my shoes, socks, shirt and jock strap… but no shorts. Come ahead, share the story, enjoy the laughs and how red my face would turn if I could have been there and been aware.
If you want to come share one of my awkward moments like when I sort of indirectly cast a slight aspersion on a particular religious group only to find out two minutes later that the new Vice President of Business and Finance was a member of that particular religious group, come ahead. Share the story, chuckle about my occasional lack of forethought and enjoy how red my face would turn if I could have been there and been aware.
If you’re one of those folks I insulted, hurt, wronged in some way, slighted or just plain ole sinned against, come ahead. Hopefully, you’ll know that I repented of that, felt bad about it and wished I’d never done it. Most likely, if I was aware of it, I already asked for your forgiveness; I usually do.
If you’re one of those folks who insulted, hurt, wronged, slighted or sinned against me, I especially want you to come. I want you to know that I forgave you long ago, even if you never asked me to forgive you. Heck, even if you still refuse to admit that you insulted, hurt or wronged me, I want you to come. And I want you to know that I love you and I would run into a burning building to rescue you. Although, I’d rather we just sat on the back porch together and shared a beer. Or a glass of iced tea if that’s what you’d prefer. I want you to know that no matter how big the hurt, how wrong the wrong, I’ve forgiven you and I love you.
I’ve forgiven you even if my wife, my kids, my friends and my dog haven’t forgiven you. But I can promise you that they’re willing to forgive you and it would make it a lot easier for them if you would at least pretend that you’re sorry about it. Okay, the dog is probably going to require something more sincere than that but for the rest of them: the pretending would be a good start.
I want you to come and enjoy my funeral. I want there to be jokes and stories and laughter. I want the tears to be genuine and unashamed. I want the laughs to ripple all the way through the building and spill out onto the sidewalk. I want my funeral to be a celebration of mercy, love, forgiveness and grace. I want my funeral to be a continuing legacy of the very best ideals to which I have aspired, the absolute grandest notions I’ve ever encountered. Even though I will admit that there have been times when getting to mercy, love, forgiveness and grace was more of a struggle than it should have been, I never quit trying. The last thing that I would want would be for my funeral to be a monument to my worst faults, my darkest traits, my greatest struggles.
So, if you want to come to my funeral and share a bit of sadness, come ahead. If you want to come to my funeral and share how some small thing I did touched your life, please come. And sit right down front, right by the family. If you want to come just to verify that the reports of my demise were not greatly exaggerated, please come. If you want to come just to gloat, come ahead but keep the gloating to yourself, please.
I’ve already forgiven you.