My long-time friend Karen (37 years and counting!) asked me how Risa's memorial service was yesterday so I thought I'd share some thoughts.
There must have been 300 people there and the mood was very positive and uplifting but tempered with the great weight of such a big loss. They had a great slideshow of her life, there was lots of singing, and many very heartfelt remembrances were shared. The same wish of Risa's was shared a number of times. She knew that her death would be hard for family and friends to deal with but she didn't want too much "moping". She wanted people to celebrate and dance and and carry on in life like she tried to do...not wasting a single minute. The more that sentiment was expressed I realized how important it would be to sing one more song that day...her favorite from camp..."Little Red Wagon". It's loud and potentially embarrassing but I knew Risa would have been proud. So with the help of our one full row of camp friends and three more in the back sitting with some soon to be astonished little old ladies from the church, we busted out a few verses of Risa's song...not too much, but just enough to bring some laughter into the room.
Later that day, some of us hung out over some pizza and "continued". My camp family is amazing. They feel life so deeply and are so appreciative and empathetic, of the moment and to others. They are also, on occasion, complete nutballs. That is why I love them. I am also thankful because they don't forget. This summer we will have our own "Memory Circle" at camp for Risa and, unfortunately, for the three other friends we've lost since last summer (Allison, Haylee, and Chris). When I say we are going to celebrate them, we really do. We don't just say it. We physically do it. We sing louder, play longer, and turn the music up to 11. That's our way of coping, of respecting, and of remembering.