Over the last year, a dear friend of mine has spoken at two funerals, one for a good friend of hers, and one for a member of her family. She doesn’t love speaking in front of crowds, though from what I’ve seen, she can do so quite well, and so I know the task – already difficult, for so many reasons – was not easy.
She let me read what she’d written for her friend, before she stood in front of a room of mourners, and I was so moved that her words brought not only tears to my eyes but also a sense of knowing this man – who I did not actually know – to my heart. It was beautiful.
I started thinking then about something I’ve often wondered: what if we gave eulogies to those who are living, so that they could know how we feel about them, what we honor, the details we will always remember?
On the day that she delivered that eulogy, I went to a movie and for the first time in my life, sneaked in popcorn that I’d made at home. I love the act of eating popcorn at the movies but I don’t really like Movie Popcorn, with its stale overtones and styrofoam texture. I prefer the popcorn I make, with butter and salt on it like my mom made for us when we were kids. Sitting in the darkened theater with my own popcorn felt like the tiniest, most indulgent of delights.
I wanted to tell my friend about it right away; she’d be so proud. Years ago, we’d just started watching the previews in a small city theater when I heard an unfamiliar rustling sound. I looked over at my friend, just in time to see her wrestling a small bag of popcorn out of her backpack. She saw me looking, and laughed. Why should I have to pay for popcorn I don’t like, she asked me, and I had no answer.
This friend of mine, she’s spirited and unique. She’s one of the smartest people I know, and the crazy thing is that she doesn’t even know how smart she is, which means that her intelligence isn’t intimidating. She’s also one of the most authentic people I have ever met; she doesn’t pretend that everything always works out the way she wants it to, and she admits to her mistakes and uncertainties, which encourages me to feel comfortable with my own. But she’s bold, and brave, and has a laugh that feels like a wonderful victory.
She makes my favorite salmon dish in the entire world, and will make it for me whenever I visit. I’ve heard that she makes a mean omelet, too, but I’ve not tried one. I believe her, because she doesn’t brag; she just tells it like it is, though in my opinion she doesn’t give herself nearly enough credit for what she does well. Her heart is huge, and holds multitudes, and breaks sometimes, and she’s stronger for it.
When I moved to California, she sent me a care package: a candle, a movie, a picture she’d taken and framed, and a letter of encouragement. I still have all of it, though the candle is a bit drawn down. She’s lived in a few different homes in the time I’ve known her, and every single one has felt like a haven from the bustle of life, so naturally skilled is she at decorating a house and making it into an entire world. It’s something I envy, and adore; even now, I sometimes crave the quiet comfort of any one of those places she’s made into a home. In those spaces, I always feel safe.
When we are together – which is not often enough, because we live on opposite sides of the country – we settle in for a day, and a night, and sometimes another day. We talk and we talk and we talk. I’m amazed, every time, at how that happens. It’s easy, honest, delightful, and honored; we don’t mince words for each other, but instead speak clearly about our opinions and our differences. Time flies. And when we head our separate ways, I am always excited for our next visit.
The day at the movies, when I proudly munched my illicit homemade popcorn, I thought about my friend, delivering a eulogy for someone she loves. I know that she did tremendously well, because I know what she said came from a place of deep love.
I plan on us being friends for a long, long time. If given the chance, I’ll stand up in front of a room of mourners and tell them all about my beloved friend. But just for today, I figured there was no point in waiting; maybe it’s all right to gush about the people we adore while they’re still here. How lucky I am to know this woman; how lucky I am to be her friend. It seems as good a time as any to say thank you.