I suppose there is no way to really be prepared emotionally for a memorial service for a twenty-three year old man who was an athlete, an eagle scout, an inspiration to many—and who chose to end his own life.
This afternoon I drove through drizzle to a nearby town where the memorial service was being held for Morgan, the middle child and second son of my dear friend Sybil. I have known Morgan since he was a pre-schooler. I watched him grow from a scrawny youngster into a powerfully-built young man who played football and aspired to be a policeman. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes while still in grade school, he was an expert at managing his blood sugar and staying healthy.
The service started with speeches from Katherine, Morgan’s best friend, and from his younger and older sister. (He also has an older brother and a still younger sister.) The first two talked about what an outstanding young man he was, what a wonderful friend and brother. The older sister concluded by emphasizing that even though they loved and admired him, they strongly disagreed with his choice to end his life. The pastor’s message spoke of the hope that all Christians have, regardless of circumstances, and urged everyone to make a different choice.
It was a good service, very life affirming. The church was packed with Morgan’s friends and family: people like me who’d known him for years, aunts and uncles, young men who were in the Boy Scouts with him, or on his football or wrestling teams. It was the first time I had seen Sybil’s oldest two children in several years. I think it did her heart good to see how many people were willing to come out on a rainy Saturday afternoon to honor the life of her son.
I stayed for the beginning of the reception but then had to say my goodbyes and head home. Not my favorite way to spend a Saturday, but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
Morgan with his three sisters, 11 years ago.