Chris’s Funeral

Chris’s Funeral

From Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul

Chris’s Funeral

After Chris’s funeral our friends gathered at the house where Chris had been living to share some stories, drink some beers and celebrate the life of my brother. There were many tender moments that night as we traded our favorite of Chris’s sayings or the funniest things that he did, but nothing touched me more than a tribute that was made without words.

John lived in our neighborhood growing up, and he and Chris were best friends, lifelong friends. They both loved to play their guitars and listen to the Rolling Stones. John was talented and dedicated to playing the guitar. Chris was less talented, but he was determined to learn to play well. Their paths split after high school while John was putting in endless hours of practice and Chris was out pursuing dreams that held more promise for him than music. He knew that he did not have the natural ability that John did, but he always loved the idea of being a guitar player. He loved the fact that John was making a living playing his guitar.

When Chris was twenty-seven, he moved to Atlanta and began a new job. He bought a new electric guitar with his signing bonus, one with a maple neck, one he had wanted for years. He called John to tell him about it.

After Chris died, I thought about his things and what we should do with them. When I thought about his new guitar and his amplifier, I thought of John. I knew that Chris would want John to have his guitar, because no one would appreciate it and use it as much as John would. No one would know what it meant to Chris as much as John would. I called John and told him that we wanted him to have the guitar, and he was touched. I told him to get it after the funeral.

John, his wife Audrey, and their new baby daughter, Ellie, were at our gathering after Chris’s funeral. After an hour or two had passed, I wondered if they were still at the house. I hadn’t seen them in a while. I walked upstairs to the room Chris had been staying in to see if John remembered to take the guitar with him when he left. As I got to the top of the stairs, I heard the sound of music coming from Chris’s room. I tapped gently on the door and stepped into the room.

Audrey and Ellie were silently lying next to each other on the bed. As I walked in, Audrey sat up on one elbow and smiled sympathetically at me. John was sunken into Chris’s chair next to the bed. His eyes were closed. He held Chris’s maple-necked guitar in his lap, and he was quietly playing the blues. His head was tilted back, and tears were squeezing out of the corners of his eyes and sliding heavily down the contours of his face. John worked his fingers along the neck of the guitar, and he made it sing about how he was feeling. The chords ran deeply through me.

He wasn’t doing it for me; he was doing it because there was no better way to show and share his emotion with his family and with Chris. He was in Chris’s room on Chris’s guitar; he was playing with him one last time, and he was expressing his pain.

In simple words, it was a grand tribute. It was one of the most touching moments of my life, and I will never forget the feeling that I got from John making that guitar wail so quietly and sweetly. My presence in the room only lasted a few minutes, but the meaningful expression from those few minutes will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Scott Michael Mastley

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