Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gunnar's Memorial

Yesterday was Gunnar Strum's memorial service. It was beautiful. I wish you could have been there.

It was over 100 degrees F in our town. That has never happened before, in the history of recorded temperatures. Way to go, Gunnar! Kathleen & I laughed about that.

She spoke at his service. His mother got up and spoke to all of us, and read a letter to her son.

A heavy metal version of "Amazing Grace" was played live, by family friends.

There were gorgeous flowers on the altar, and Gunnar's wakeboard, skimboard and three of his motocross helmets. People were signing his skimboard with permanent markers. His big, shiny, black truck was parked in front of the church entrance, with his motorcycle in the bed.

His father spoke. Their friends spoke. Two pastors spoke.

But no one knows why he died. And by grace, no one tried to explain it. Thank You, Lord.

I have met people this week who I didn't know before, because of Gunnar.

I was praying for help in getting through the memorial. You see, I wasn't feeling too well, but wanted to support Kathleen. I don't feel too strong right now. This has shaken me to the core, again. Of course it has. It has shaken our whole community.

How can this have happened? It cannot have happened - and yet, it has.

My prayers were answered; thank You, Lord. The church was air-conditioned. I had water. I could breathe. I could pray and be present to support Kathleen.

Kathleen got through it. She was radiant and beautiful, strong and funny, sad and heartbroken, brave and gracious. She was herself: my passionate, honest, creative, God-loving, fiercely maternal friend.

The slideshow was beautiful, beyond words, accompanied by LOUD rock music, just as Gunnar would have liked. I had a brief vision of him, Hayden and Katie, as if they were watching it all, looking with compassion, happiness and love from somewhere just above us, enjoying the tributes. I felt as if they were together, and it comforted me. It might be just in my mind, but it was a good feeling.

I loved seeing Gunnar from babyhood, before I knew him, through the time when I met him. I loved seeing him with Hayden, all through Hayden's life. When I saw those photos, it clicked; that affection and sense of him as one of the most beautiful, spiritual people I have met. The way that he looked at you, directly; the sweet depth in his eyes. Of course I wanted him to marry Katie! That first feeling of knowing him came rushing back.

The photos of Gunnar as he grew, when he was on the motocross circuit, traveling with Kathleen, were awesome. The stunts, the speed, the dirt! I couldn't believe she was able to let him do it, after Hayden's death. The desire to put him in a bubble and protect him must have been there...I know it is in me...but she didn't do it. She let him be Gunnar, and no one could confine that spirit. He was FREE.

The pictures of him recently, as a glorious, strong, athletic, affectionate, friendly, purposeful young man were wonderful to see. He was surrounded by friends. He had community, and community of faith. He was active. He had traveled. He knew who he was and where he was going next.

I started to cry when I saw that Kathleen had included the photo of Gunnar sitting with her on Katie's bench.

One of Gunnar's favorite scriptures:
"This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matt. 3: 17

And the words in the program:
"This memorial service is dedicated to all emboldened by Gunnar's life. He has handed the baton to you. Run Well!"


Busy Bee Suz said...

I don't know how Kathleen or even you could keep it many unanswered questions of WHY?!?!?!?
This is just heartbreaking and I have been thinking of Gunnar's family.

Jennifer Stumpf said...

i have no words of wisdom, how can anyone, but you have found a way. beautiful post, karen. thank you for updating us.

Elizabeth said...

Of course you felt faint. Because this is all just too damn much. I'm certain that there is a bit of post-traumatic stress syndrome mixed into your otherwise normal feelings of grief and loss for your friends and their son. I suppose the only thing to do is to acknowledge every feeling that you have as that feeling. To pray unceasing. We love you out here, Karen, and send you that love.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a beautiful memorial service -- full of celebration and character, to be sure. I've unfortunately lost too many family members, and always feel faint at funerals. You're not alone on that.