“I know it's clichéd and ironic to say this at a funeral, but Nate really was always full of life.” Chris says as he stands on the altar less than two feet behind my casket, and if he's half as sad as I expect him to be, he's hiding it expertly. I wonder if he feels he needs to put on a strong facade for my mom. Is it selfish to hope it is actually a false front and that he is genuinely upset at my death? Probably, but this is my funeral, screw etiquette. What else does my frat brother have to say?
“In college he was the de facto leader of our group, even after we'd grown into our own separate lives he was the one to bring us back. When we'd be out he was always the center of attention, not because he was the most charming or funniest of us, although now that I think about it he probably was, but simply because being around him made everyone else feel better. No one was allowed to be in a bad mood around Nate.” You always spoke so well in front of an audience, but that's not entirely true Chris, what I always said is if on any day nothing goes as planned...
“He always said “If your day doesn't go as planned, change the plan.” I don't think I truly understood what he meant until the day he died.” I'll forgive you for interrupting me this one time buddy... Jokes aren't as funny when no one else can hear them. “People always say 'live each day to the fullest' but no one does, I won't even pretend that Nate did, but what he did do was make the most with what he was given. He didn't come from a wealthy family, but his parents instilled in him from a young age strong morals that carried with him to his last day. These morals drove him to exceed at every academic level, eventually leading him to succeed professionally, although none of us ever understood what exactly it was he did.” That wasn't funny people, stop laughing. I am... was a National Operation Manager overseeing the country wide vended business services for... never mind. If you couldn't get it when I was alive, no point in trying now.
“Nate was the first of us to meet our wives, even if he was the last of us to actually get married. He met Amber on a trip we took our senior year of college, and they started dating almost immediately after.” You old softy, you are sad. Why else wouldn't you mention where the trip was to? “They might not have gotten married right away, but everyone close to them knew that what Nate and Amber had was legit and would last forever. Sadly, none of us knew how short forever was. After years of dating, two of my best friends tied the knot.” You hate that saying Chris.
“Having dated for so long, and growing as close as any couple could, they decided the only place they could get married was at the same location they first met.” Again you're avoiding the location. Not saying the place doesn't make the events any less real man. I'm sorry this hurts so much, but I promise you'll be happy again, all of you here will. “While they waited so long to get married they seemed to have rushed to have kids. I'm sure if someone were to actually do the math, we'd see that their daughter, Courtney, was born less than nine months from their wedding, but we'll let them have that secret.”
Chris chokes up at her name, his first real sign of what he's dealing with internally. “Forgive me if this sounds cruel, but Courtney's birth really was the beginning of their problems. Understand, I loved that girl as if she were my own...” No one's blaming you man, no one's judging you. You're doing good, not much more to tell. “She was an angel, but she wasn't long for this world. I don't know why, but she was taken from them, from all of us too soon. Her health problems started before she was even twelve months, and she passed on her second birthday. The unimaginable pain Amber and Nate must have gone through was too much for Amber's body. She soon became sick, almost like her heart couldn't go on without her angel and two short years later, on what would have been Courtney's fourth birthday she left Nate also.”
This is it Chris, you're almost at the end, stay strong get through this and go home to your wife and kids, and love them like I never had the chance to do. “Being Mr. Sunshine, Nate tried to hide the pain he was in, but he couldn't fool any of us, a complete stranger could have seen the pain he was in. For two years Nate put on the face of a man who was content with his allotment in life. What none of us knew, but we should have been able to guess is that he decided to 'change the plan'. Exactly two years after his wife's death, and four years after his daughter died Nate took his life. The spot he first met Amber, and where he shared his nuptials with her, will always be the placed he jumped out of our lives, and I can't blame him. No one should have gone through what he did, but you'll forgive me if I never return there. Thank you, and cheers.” You seriously snuck a beer onto the altar? Good for you sir, I'll have one ready for you when we see each other again, which hopefully won't be for many, many years. “Here's to Nate I hope you found your happiness again.”
I wrote this story nearly three times before I had this finished piece. The first two times were variations of people going over the falls in a barrel which seemed to easy of a pick. I know more about the first person to go over the falls than I’d care to, and attempted to create the first married couple to do so together, but again it all seemed like the easy way out. However, it wasn’t all for naught because it led to the story you just read.
While it is a rather depressing story, I feel at the core there’s a great lesson, and the main character said it beautifully, “If your day’s not going as planned, change the plan.” I was impressed with myself when I wrote that one, hope you were too, and see the meaning behind the words.