(In avoidance of confusion, this is Scott, not Dru)
Thursday I gave the eulogy at my mother in law’s funeral. Last Christmas, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, but responded well to radiation and chemo. On the Friday of my Ironman weekend, my MIL went to the ER with a fever caused by a perforation in her large intestine. On Friday, I asked my wife if she wanted me to come home. “I am not dong the training for this again and I am not paying for this again. Finish what you started. You add no medial value.” She was right. I had an amazing weekend and was with her on Monday night. My MIL got better, but never “well” and a sequence of infections and tumor related seizures left her in a state where she would not recover. She now resides with Love everlasting.
I am proud of my eulogy. It is from the heart and I wrote and rewrote it many times prior to the funeral. I struggled to get through reading it at the funeral, ultimately reading without looking at my family. Someone asked if I would share it (a nice compliment) so I’ll share it. I think it is a good testimony to a legacy of love.
Let me say it out loud. This sucks. When I was 13 my grandfather died after a battle with lung cancer. That night after we got the phone call from Louisville to Atlanta, I went to homecoming. Friends asked me if I was ok, I was fine. Paw Paw was a good man who raised my amazing father, but I did not know him that well. He lived in Louisville, I lived in Atlanta. For my children, November 29, 2015 sucked. They are not ok. Mary Pitman did not live in Louisville she lived here, in our lives, everyday and we loved it.
Rachel and I are very fortunate to have raised our children within 10 mile of my parents, as well as Mary. My children’s grandparents are integral pieces of their lives. We are so very lucky. Mary attended every event in the lives of my children, my family. We have been so very blessed. It is this blessing that makes today so much harder.
Each of you here celebrates one or more moments of joy and love as a direct result of Mary’s earthly journey. We celebrate hundreds. Some of you may not know Mary that well, but rather you are here to support Rachel or Ben, one of Mary’s amazing grandchildren or myself. If so, you are still celebrating Mary’s love as it has been shared generationally.
The first time I met Mary, Rachel and I had been dating a few months. As all of you know, Auburn University and Auburn football are recipients of Mary’s love. Rachel had invited me over to watch the National Championship Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Miami in January of 1993 with her family. I was raised on college basketball and knew little about the passions of Southern football. As we watched the game, I started cheering for Alabama. When Mary asked what I was doing, I told her simply that Miami was a suburb of New York and I was cheering for the true Southern team. Mary said, “we don’t cheer for Alabama in this house.” I replied, “I don’t cheer for Northern teams.” And, as it happens, the first day I met my future mother-in-law, she kicked me out of the house. Neither of us would give in.
As time passed, I ended up loving her Auburn, her daughter and her. When Rachel and I were planning our wedding, I again saw the depth and passion of her love. As the mother of the bride, Mary took her role seriously. She and Jon were happy to pay for their daughter’s wedding. When meeting with the reception facility, I started to argue price items. Mary told me simply, “I have worked and saved for this wedding. Shut up, you are not paying for it.” She loved her children completely and at all costs.
I share those stories create a view into Mary’s fierce love. She loved with a force of will that is unmatched. I share that trait and chose a woman with that trait. Together, we are raising three girls who share that trait. Mary’s love was directed in a spotlight fashion and, I have to admit, I loved how that spotlight was directed at my children. I celebrate that love for my family and I cry to see that light extinguished.
I am at a loss. I am at a loss to comfort the ones I love who have lost a friend, a sister, a daughter, a grandmother, and hardest of all, a mom. My God has taken Mary into his embrace and welcomed her home. My God is the father of infinite love. My God can direct that same spotlight love on each of us, all at once. If one of my children does not recognize me on the street, I will embrace them anyway, there on the street. My love is not shy and my love is but thimble of God’s love. No earthly sin will ever exceed the love of the Father. God has wrapped Mary in his love and will grant her peace.
On the Sunday that followed Mary’s passing, a friend of mine who also lost her mom shared with me some heartfelt advice I want to share with Rachel, Ben, Savannah, Sydney, Sabrina, Karen, Nancy and others.
Now is the grief that you’ve prepared for. Now is when you’re ready for it. The holidays are never the same, but you anticipate the different. You steel yourself against it. You have people to help you through it.
Later is strange. Later comes the moment when a random recipe in a magazine causes you to want to pick up the phone to call her mom. Later is when something unexpectedly awful or awesome happens and the one person you want to share it with is the one person you can’t. Later are the thousands of moments that take your breath because you’re not ready. The unexpected is the hardest.
For each of these people, make sure you’re there for them in later. You’ll never know how much they’ll need it. When they get mad, because how can you possibly understand? You don’t “get it”. That’s ok. Love them with the fierceness Mary would have loved them.
I have to let my wife feel all the feels she needs to feel and comfort her through them. This time sucks. My heart hurts for my entire family. I know that the miracle was getting even one moment with Mary? I get it. I know. I am selfish. I wanted so much more for me. For my children. For Ben and my wife
In the end, our earthly life everlasting is the imprint we leave on the world. The moments of longing and loss are holes that Mary once filled with love and joy. Each tear is a celebration of a special moment that you shared. Today more than ever, we remember, It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.
Thank you, Mary for your amazing daughter. Thank you for loving me. I love and miss you. Amen and War Eagle.