Ceremonies and big events bring people together and a funeral or memorial service is no exception. Unlike most upbeat occasions where people gather, at funerals, I find myself feeling guilty for taking pleasure in seeing old friends, colleagues, etc. Maybe it’s facing my mortality that makes me uncomfortable or the uncomfortable feeling that I’m being judged. Should I talk about what happened or avoid the conversation and keep to lighter topics? How do you address the widow and other family? Naturally, knowing there is no wrong answer, I check in with myself and try my best to keep perspective. On this occasion, there were a lot of familiar faces, people I haven’t seen in a long, long time, and a significant lot from my current team (in it’s past incarnation). The familial feeling that engulfed me was a strange contrast to the deep sadness of the occasion. But, I am glad we were all brought together despite the circumstances. There was a feeling of home that grounded me and brought to light appreciation for what I’ve been fortunate to experience with these people as well as a fondness to the very same. This photo of Iain and Ryan, twins or MIB (you decide), expresses my sentiments perfectly.
While I’d been reflecting on my experience at the funeral, I also spent quite a bit of time mulling over the situation of the deceased. First, when the news came across my desk, before I’d read the content, I thought with a subject like that, Kyril must be getting promoted. Instead, I read this:
I was shocked. I went to the Memorial website linked in the mail and still could not believe what I was reading. Kyril. Gone. Really? I’m still a bit in disbelief but less so than at that time. Fellow colleagues were experiencing similar feelings. The atmosphere at work was numb…everyone was going through the motions of work but no one was really focused on the task at hand. Clearly our minds were elsewhere.
Fortunately, all were invited to the burial and the reception. My old team gathered and sat together as collectively we absorbed reality. As the Eulogy ensued, we were reminded how to comfort the real mourners: the family Kyril left behind. It was a Jewish ceremony, which for me, was a first. The service was short, but memorable. One gentleman had some kind words to say about his 20 years of ‘mentoring’ Kyril, but both captured his essence.
Kyril was bright, visionary, warm, fun, talented, and a great person to work for and hang out with. This was corroborated by people I would meet while mingling at the reception.
‘It’s rare that two couples get along as well as we did…we would meet regularly for BBQ’s and go camping together…it was just a lot of fun to be around him.’
‘I only met him twice, but our conversations were lively. I will miss that.’
‘Kyril told me I’d never get a hangover if I drank vodka and red bull. He was wrong, but I’ll miss those drinks with him.’
‘There were many Saturdays when we would hang out and philosophize about life, science, etc…of all the things I enjoyed with him, his conversations will be missed the most.’
‘…he had this amazing ability to connect [with others] and inspire greatness…’
Yes, Kyril was all of that and I’m sure more. He touched many and I wish I had a photo of the procession to the burial site. The line was long and winding with people. I wonder if he knew how deeply he’d touched so many?
While I had listened attentively to the Eulogy and tried to observe the family’s wishes for how to comfort them, it appears that it was not so easy to do. First, I had to work up the nerve to approach Lauren. She had constant surroundings by various people and I was uncomfortable approaching in a crowd. Next, once I went up to her, what would I say?
It all started well enough. I was even relieved that I could talk about Kyril with her and she seemed relieved to have that brief conversation. She thanked me for coming and I should have walked away at that very moment, but the next thing you know, I’ve given her a hug and told her to stay strong. As I walked away, I shamefully recognized how I’d just committed one of the very infractions we were warned against earlier. *sigh*
As the afternoon waned, wine was drunk, food was eaten and I was very tired. Though fortunate to have met a myriad of people from all over with varied relations to Kyril and Lauren, I was ready to leave. Socializing about the deceased did not make it seem any more real. In fact, I felt as though Kyril was missing his own party…gone, but coming back. That is, until I saw his two daughters Pasha (in the photo) and Avery, not pictured. Two adorable girls, one who will probably never really remember Kyril, but both who no longer have the opportunity to know him like many of us. My heart went out to them. The world lost a brilliant light, Microsoft lost a brilliant leader, many lost a brilliant friend. But for Lauren and the girls, their loss is a tragic one and I wish anything it could have been different for them.
As for the rest of us, our mortality is real. No one is exempt. It’s moments like this that remind me to keep perspective on what’s important in life. If you’ve read this and feel compelled to do something for the family, visit the memorial website for more information. Lauren has a fund set up for Pasha and Avery.