We held a memorial service for Paul in Eugene yesterday. It was awesome. It was awesome to see so many people gather to celebrate his life. It was awesome to hear their memories of Paul. It was awesome to spend time with other people he had touched.
I know that it’s trite to say, but Paul had an impact on so many people. We all know that he could be a pain in the ass, but this pain-in-the-assness was completely outweighed by the degree to which he improved our lives.
I’m having a hard time writing this morning. I’m a wreck. I’m bawling. Mostly I don’t do that. I handle death as a stoic. Monday was bad, though, and today is off to a rocky start. It’s as if I’ve walled off the grief for a week, put it behind a dam, and now it wants to break out.
Anyhow, I was awed by the gathering last night, and grateful to see so many people. When we sat down, I focused on talking with the people near me, so I didn’t realize how many people were in the room until I walked up front to make my remarks. When I turned around, I was stunned. “Wow,” I said, and I meant it. (I wish I had the presence of mind to pause, to pull out my cell phone, and to take a photo. I want to remember that moment forever.)
There will be another memorial service in Portland next Thursday the 29th at 6:30 pm at Ascension Catholic Church, a fact that would make Paul groan, I’m sure. But this isn’t for Paul — it’s for his family. And it’s for you. If you knew Paul and would like to make your remembrances, you are invited to attend. (If you have questions, contact me or Tom Stewart.)
Oddly, last night was also a fantastic time to meet and become re-acquainted with some of Paul’s other friends. I met Rob for the first time. I got to know Tia and Mariah a little (I went to school with them, but never really knew them). Tom and I had a chance to talk more about our long friendship with Paul. I saw Holly M. for the first time since college, and saw Melissa, too. I didn’t get to bed until after one, but I barely noticed the passing of the previous twelve hours.
I can hardly believe how modest my goals are for today, my first day back working since last Thursday. I have a 10:30 interview with Grist. I need to write a short bio of myself for a book I’m contributing to. And I want to make a mix CD that reminds me of Paul. Three little things. That’s it. Yet I still don’t know if I’ll get them all done.
One thing’s for damn sure: once I’m finished with my upcoming presentations (in mid-February), I’m going to focus on the essentials: writing and friendships. All of this other stuff is just a distraction.