Family and friends of Jim Chastain braved the cold weather on Tuesday aftenoon, December 29, to celebrate his life. We laughed and we cried as close friends walked us down memory lane.
No one was surprised that Jim had written a poem to be read at his funeral. We found his words to us printed in the worship folder and I am reprinting them here believing that he would want any of you have visited this site to hear them as well.
I’d been wanting to write a poem that says goodbye, but spares readers from the melodrama of poems that say goodbye.
This resulted in writer’s block, for the thought that these might be the actual words that would someday be read at my funeral made me creatively constipated.
Because how does one say goodbye to the wife who stood by you all those years for no good reason except that she’s dependable, longsuffering and true?
Or to the beautiful daughter who always made you laugh, who went out of her way to hug you every time, every single time, you really needed it?
Or to the son, who was so often the buddy you needed, who laughed at your lame jokes, who “gets” you, who was oh-so gifted as a songwriter?
Or to the former family, who’d already lost so much? Or to all those friends who’d touched your life, who chose to hang in there through thick and thin?
You see the problem here? Melodrama seems inevitable. So I’ve settled upon a poem that’s about trying to write a poem that says goodbye.
And I’ll finish it the only way I know how, with a funny story: I began this poem on the toilet, having ingested too much iron, and I finished it on the loveseat,
looking out upon a cold, blustery day, with the sweetest of all dogs curled up by my feet and the fattest of all cats sitting on my lap, purring.
To Jim Chastain, thank you for sharing your life and your dying time openly and honestly by putting your thoughts and feelings on paper so we could walk along beside you for a time on this last part of your journey.
You are loved. You are missed.
We are changed – not because you left us but because you touched us.