Tuesday, March 10, 2009

aaron huffstetler

I was asked to say a few things at the funeral yesterday, and some have asked for a copy. here it is:

I have two brothers, and I love them. and in my life I've been fortunate to have a few - just a few - friends who I have loved like a brother, and aaron was one of them. aaron and I have been friends for a long long time, and thinking back on it now, it seems like almost every memory I have that is significant, aaron has been apart of it. from girls and figuring out girls and not figuring out girls to going away to school and getting married, trying to figure out a way to make a living, trying to navigate through life and marriage and families and temptations and loss and hardships - aaron has been a friend I have leaned on frequently and consistently. he never let me down, he always showed up, he always kept his word. he was honest and he was quiet and he had a grand memory, which he used often to recall stories that were always just what we needed to hear and remember. and his smile. his smile was reserved but it was broad, and when it came, it washed over you, carried you, and brought joy; he had a smile that was as invasive and unavoidable as the morning light. and it was good.

aaron was the kind of friend who would not only join you for a road trip, but he would enthusiastically plan it and count down the days. and the time on the road, whatever the destination, would be filled with long talks, good music, and an eagerness to be known. he was a safe person to talk to. he was open minded. he was never judgmental, but he was principled.

he loved his daughters well. I watched them come to him and talk to him. curl in his lap and fall asleep. it was a beautiful thing to watch - my friend with his children.

aaron loved ashleigh well. I watched him carry her quietly and fearfully, and he never wavered. he never took his eyes away from her. and I know if he were here today, he would say "hey, its okay." he would want all of us to be comforted. he would want me to stop talking so much.

aaron and I talked often about faith. in large part because of my own dark, plaguing questions and fears. and aaron was always patient and kind. (and it might be this quality of his that I will miss the most)

it is sad to me how lacking so much of the language of christianity is in providing comfort and hope during time of grief and loss. prayers seem cold, and isolating. scripture quotes seems too mysterious, too out of place. god feels so far away. I find myself wanting to be allowed the space to not justify, to not reconcile, to not attempt to explain. I find myself longing for the freedom to be sad, to weep, and for the freedom to grieve, for what may be a really long time.

and for some reason, on friday, I remembered this story of lazarus. which is actually kind of amazing because I've been avoiding the bible for a really long time now. and I recall how in this story, there is a guy who dies, and jesus comes 4 days after he is dead. and jesus is there to raise him from the dead. to bring restoration and life and hope. not just in the long term, but immediately. and jesus arrives and instead of saying anything comforting, instead of any sort of spiritual explanation, or prayers, jesus weeps. he just cries. even though moments later, her performs a miracle and brings life, and restores everything, he first engages the pain and weeps. there is this profound notion that the god of the universe engages pain and restoration simultaneously.

and so while there is hope that in the long term, sad things really are being made untrue. maybe there is also hope that in the here and now, jesus weeps. and maybe there is hope that the pain and grief and the guilt that we are all quietly carrying alone (or with a close friend), is actually being carried for us and with us.

to aaron - I will miss your friendship, your smile, your loyalty, and the quiet, countless ways you carried me. to aaron's family - thank you for allowing me to be apart of your story. it is an honor I will be forever thankful for. to ashleigh, audrey, anna grace - you are surrounded today by people who love you and grieve with you, and my hope is that as our story continues, we can maybe carry you a fraction as well as aaron did.

may the hope that is the wide, deep river of mercy and grace cover and wash over all of us. and may we never forget the beautiful people we've lost.


Charlotte said...

thank you for writing this. thank you for pointing us to the Truth.

i join you in your grief. even though i didn't know Aaron or his family, i am so saddened for all of you.

i am sorry you have all lost a loving, good, loyal friend, son, husband, & father.

come Jesus, come.

This High Calling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suzanne Owen Jones said...

beautiful brian.
i have no words....
amen to charlotte's "come jesus, come."

Jonathan said...

I'm as touched reading this now as I was hearing it yesterday, Brian. Thanks.

Carla Jean said...

Brian, that was beautiful. I am so sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

Brian, as I sat through the funeral your words and your music emulated precisely how I felt. As a pallbearer I enjoyed our talk in the car, because you gave me a small piece of my brother I didnt have before. As much as i enjoyed seeing my family and friends my heart wanted to be on the front porch listening to stories and learning more about my brother. There was so much I didnt know as I loved him from afar. You and Frank share a brother with me. Thank you and I hope to learn more and more about him every day.

His older brother

The Sooz said...

I am glad you are willing to be human, Brian.

Aaron said...


Caryn said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Brian.

Suzanne Clement said...

I am now in love with a human I never met. Thanks for sharing, Brian.

S. W. K. said...

i cried as i read this- i didn't know aaron or his family but your words are a beautiful memorial.

sarah wells

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