Although I had only had a few small, random conversations with Dr. Conyers I decided to go to his funeral today. I work with his son-in-law Luca, who embodies the virtues of decency, kindness, and hard work more than most people I know, and used to work with his daughter Emily whose smile and laugh can melt the hardest of hearts. Dr. Conyers knew me as the guy he met in the stairwell at Truett, and the guy who Kyle Lake introduced him to about a year later at UBC, and the guy who always said 'hi' in the bookstore. The sporadic nature of our meetings and the many people his vocation required him to constantly meet and interact with probably rendered it impossible for him to remember my name. That's ok, though. There are dozens of people running around this town that I've met dozens of times in different settings whose names I have no recollection of.
But I do have a memory of him, even if it isn't wrapped up in deep personal involvement. About a week ago Dr. Conyers limped into the store just to look around. He was a shadow of his former self. Thin, emaciated. He disappeared into the stacks of books and came out with Bernard Lewis' masterpiece "The Middle East: The Last 2000 Years." One of my greatest joys is seeing a customer with a book I have read and commenting on it. It connects me to people in ways nothing else will.
When I told Dr. Conyers that he had a great book in his hand, he replied by saying "I hope so. I feel there's so much more about the history of the area that I need to know."
Days away from death, the man's curiosity was still digging. His mind was still on a treasure hunt.
Well, he's found his treasure and I'm inspired to seriously read Lewis' book, not just the highlights.
There was something special about being at the funeral of a man I hardly knew because it gave me the opportunity to examine my own life and to be affected by the words of others and learn again by the words of those close to him the things that are really important.
Sitting next to Jason and in the same room with Christy and knowing that Kyle was also there somewhere, while listening to Dr. Conyer's brother and son and lifelong friend made me think about this: One day, hopefully many years from now, I will stand up at the funerals of friends, and they will stand up at mine, and we will give an account of each other's life.
We will speak of years spent together.
We will talk about how we made each other laugh and how we tried our best to help each other find God.
We will remember the little things said that the sayer forgot, but that altered the course of our lives forever.
We will speak of the silent moments together, the moments that needed no words to legitimize as holy moments.
We will openly tell of our love for our friends, and yet silently regret the many missed opportunities of verbalizing those words.
We will remember the special seasons of friendship, and yet grieve over times of estrangement when circumstance and misunderstandings kept us apart.
Mentioning the quirks and oddities of our friends will bring laughter to the room, each one pointing to the things we lack and long for in ourselves.
At that moment we will understand the brutally intense power of words that seemed to be just mere words before that day: Loyalty. Laughter. Grief. Tears. Friendship. Love.
And the best I can hope for, and work my ass off ensuring, is that years spent in relationship will be worth the sentimentality of that moment.