Friday, July 17, 2015

Raising a Glass to the Dearly Departed

This past Saturday, while everyone in American Fork was out to see their parade celebrating their "what-have-you" celebration days. I was getting directions for navigating detours and cursing at said parade-going folk so that I may make my way to the American Fork cemetery. Now, under normal circumstances I would be telling you that a cemetery is the absolute last place I would like to wake up early on a Saturday (my Sunday with my work schedule) to go to. Given the extraordinary events I witnessed while on the hallowed ground, I assure you, you will not hear complaint one from me.

Jessica had asked me to accompany her, given the very personal and emotional nature of the friendship she had with the dearly departed. After we parked on the side street flooded with cars as it was marked as the official detour of the parade route closures, we walked to the ominous green tents to shade the bereaved. I found it difficult to hear the first person to speak into the microphone and thought we were going to have to battle the street noise, and the ruckus of a little league baseball game 50 yards from the grave throughout the entire service. What I witnessed as is stood with the blazing July sun beating down on me, was one of the most genuine, and love-filled grave side services performed by a truly saddened family. I could tell from the cracks in their voices, their tissues and the general expressions on their faces that they were truly shocked by the events leading them to that moment.

Thanks to Jessica, we have this lovely picture of the services

His name was David Chalk, and from everything I gathered during the service, he was the type of person who you wanted to be around you as much as possible. I never had the pleasure of meeting Dave, but Jessica had mentioned that he might need to ride our couch a month or so after we had first moved into our current residence. From what I heard, Dave was a frequenter of the couches of friends and casual acquaintances in all of his many traveling adventures. Dave had been diagnosed with a form of cancer that he had been battling for several years, since he was 16. He was the type of person to live life to the fullest, always doing everything he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it. He was going to ride out the one fair shake he got in this world and see as much of it and taste as much of it as he possibly could. He was a traveler, a sports fanatic and a food connoisseurs. He did not let his diagnosis define him, and he sure wasn't going to let anybody give him any special treatment or pity on account of the fact that he's "sick." From what I gathered from the beautiful eulogy his three sisters honored him with, he was intoxicating to be around. He was the type of person who lived in the moment and for every moment. He loved music, dancing, and getting everybody in on the good time. From the vivid word picture his family and friends painted, Dave was the guy to light up a room, talk to everyone in it, and then have a circle gathered around him to witness a care-free display of his signature sweet dance moves.

The reason I felt inspired to write this piece about a man I've never met was I was blown away by the sort of effect he had on other people. Between all the information I could gather, everything that Jessica has told me about him, his heart felt eulogy, and all the side conversations I heard graveside today, Dave was one of those people you HAD to know to believe the energy and life they could give off. But just because I didn't know him, doesn't mean that he can't have taught me something. Today I was reminded how important it is to make your moments count and do the things you want to do. I think Jessica said it best in the car ride on the way home "I always just thought he was going to be around forever because he was Dave." He is one of those people who embody the free spirit we all wish we could be. My advice to you is live deliberately. Don't just sit idly by as your life drives you round and round the endless circle of paperwork or meaningless tasks. I was reminded that life is meant for the bold, and to not be afraid of what people will think or how things will be perceived. Because one day we're all going to end up like Dave, in a hole in the ground. Do you want to be remembered as the guy/girl who was just there, or do you want to be remembered as the one who makes a presence and did everything you ever wanted? I'll take the latter, if you don't mind. I could tell by the sheer number of people that showed up, he was the one to make a presence and an impression. Do the things you want to do, help others, live life and leave a trail of friends along the way. Be like Dave Chalk.

Jessica and I on the way home from the services, making the best out of life.

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