OK, so I don’t know the actual number of weddings my husband, John, has performed since his ordination as a chaplain in early 2010. It’s somewhere around seven, maybe a few more? But today he performed his first funeral.
I have never been more proud to call him my husband.
Not only was this his first time around the funeral block, but the deceased was the father of a childhood friend. The man and his sons, John’s buddies, were regular fixtures in his growing up years. So this memorial was personal. A few weeks after he learned his father was dying of cancer, while he was enduring aggressive chemo, Chris (the son) asked John to perform the ceremony. Eventually. After his fight earned him extra time.
That was a month ago. Everyone involved has struggled with the sense of having no time to prepare, of being shocked at the swiftness of the disease. And John went from agreeing to do the service to… well, writing his sermon, visiting with the family, and guiding the service through moving testimonies, a clear gospel presentation, and military honor guard.
No one could have guessed it was his first time in that role. He was steady, dignified, organized, clear, ON TIME, and sincere (I spent hours all this week weeping as he talked through his ideas on what to say and how to say it).
I hope future ceremonies won’t be so personally difficult for him. I say “future” because the mantle of chaplain weighs comfortably on his shoulders. He has the gift of compassion, of empathy, a way of connecting with the hurting in a comforting way. (It’s a good thing one of us has that gift…)
I have the feeling Chaplain John may show up more often. Though I’d rather see him at weddings, really!