“One of the lessons that AIDS has taught us is how little some things matter….”.
This quote from one of Randy's speeches is the quote I remember above all others.
It would be easy for me to speak today about Randy's life, achievements, and his measure of accomplishment in this world. Easier still to describe his heroic struggle in the battle against AIDS. These things we know and take comfort in.
What is hard for me to talk about is how death pulls away the curtain to reveal who we really are. What have we allowed Randy's death to reveal about ourselves?
The passion of our grief provides the fuel for an examination of our life. The depth and measure of our struggle to learn from this loss is an accounting of what we have let go.
When we experience the loss of someone like Randy, someone close to us, our first thought is to preserve what is left. We guard against further loss. We ask, hasn't this been enough? The answer, sadly, is no.
Death has challenged me to define the significant parts of my life, and therefore by definition, to identify those behaviors and attitudes that don't really matter, the ones I must let go.
We're lucky if we know what really matters. Learning what to cast aside is what takes courage, a glimpse of the kind of courage we saw in our beloved Randy.
As Randy's illness progressed he struggled with sorting out past goals and accomplishments, and evaluating the significance of fame, glory and material possessions. This knowledge became a part of his spiritual guide, and gave him the strength, when it was time, to let go.
I pray that I will gain that same wisdom, and incorporate it into my own life's spiritual guide.
Randy performed many loving and touching wedding ceremonies, ending each one with a favorite passage of his that expressed his personal wish for the bride and groom. Randy would say:
“Before you take your vows, I want to express a wish for you on behalf of all the people who love you here:
We do not wish you joy without sorrow
Nor endless day without the healing dark,
Nor brilliant sun without the restful shadow,
Nor tides that never turn against your bark.
We wish you love, and strength, and faith, and wisdom,
Goods, gold enough to help some needy one,
We wish you songs, but also blessed silence,
And God's sweet peace when every day is done.
God rest your soul, Randy.