Yesterday I Attended the Funeral of a Man I Did Not Know by Ross Oscar Knight

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Blogging from 30,000 ft above somewhere in the Midwest...

Yesterday I Attended the Funeral of a Man I Did Not Know and His Name Was Curt.

What do you know about the wall behind me in this photo? Probably nothing except for recognizing the complimentary colors that blend to make a warm composition. That’s exactly how I felt yesterday sitting with my wife in the choir stand of Angeles Mesa Presbyterian Church (Crenshaw). I gazed out at the amity of yellow, brown, and red faces that made up the congregation. But I knew nothing about the despondent people seated before me. It was sad but beautiful at the same time. I looked further and saw more people that continued to enter through the rear of the sanctuary looking to rest weary hearts and feet. There was standing room only.

It is a humbling experience to attend the funeral of a man whom you do not know. Curt may be the smartest person that I have never met. Beloved by his family Curt seemed to be the glue that held them altogether. I learned more about his life as I read the obituary and listened to the words of his friends and family recount memories. Curt was a jovial man – a man of honor - a shining star. He had an affable personality. Everyone loved Curt. He was a family man. When he was younger he used to have back problems. After his mother investigated the condition she found that he was carrying encyclopedias to school in his backpack to read during lunch. Curt was determined. He wanted to learn. He read the Bible, Torah, and the Koran. Curt reached for his goals. He grew up an elite athlete. Curt was a role model. He changed his major to History and then eventually became a doctor. Curt died suddenly from a heart attack after running on a treadmill overlooking Lake Michigan. He used to tell others that he found peace near water and that running was his time to commune with God.

I struggled to rationalize why this perfect soul was taken at the age of 31. I glanced every once and a while back at Curt’s family during the service and I started living their emotions. Pain and Peace - Hope and Heartache - Anticipation and Acceptance. I thought about one of my best friends (Felix) that I lost at the age of 19 and how I had coped. Curt was not my friend but had we met we probably could have been. God rest his soul.

Let’s return to the wall in the photo. This wall could have existed before any of us did. It may have been a different color or the sum of its parts transported from a different location. The wall was destined to be recognized by me at this time. I leaned on the wall and pondered these thoughts. I touched the wall at its different sections. I thought about how a family should connect the boundaries of our lives. I thought about Curt’s family. I am reminded today of the love I have for my family. For the blessing it is to be one of seven children born to my parents. For the sacrifices my parents made for me to take my first steps. For the days and weeks and years they went without to nourish a young mind yearning for knowledge. For values instilled in a man destined to be a traveling photographer - telling stories to be viewed and recapitulated by thousands. When I shoot, write and then publish it comes to mind that I am not just one of seven but I am one in a global family of billions. Connecting to others is essential to my growth. 

The story of Curt's life blessed me beyond measure and I am grateful that my wife asked me to join her for the service of her friend. We did not come to LA just for the service but found out that coincidentally the funeral was on the same weekend. Its astonishing how all things happen for a reason.

I pray that the impact of this story has made an impression on your heart and that you will communicate with the ones you love.



Nycia Emerson said...

As I read this I can't hold back the tears, my emotions take over. God allows us to be in a place to take a look around us and recognize the things in life that we sometimes take for granted. As I read this post I am reminded to take a look around me, as my boys run around the house screaming at the top of there lungs, as my wonderful husband makes a yummy lunch in the kitchen, I am so grateful and have so much to be grateful for. Thanks for the reminder and sharing something so deep and real. You are such inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Ironically, yesterday I too attended the funeral of a man I barely knew. As I read your entry, I began to ponder the standing room only service held for his celebration of life and the overwhelming outpouring of love that people had for him. The powerful influence he had on everyone he met and loved was one that many hope to have amongst people they encounter through life. I rejoiced in the fact that people as far as Texas and beyond came to celebrate his 46 years of life. I cried at the possibilities of the impact of the legacy left by him. I found a moment to smile remembering the last time I had the opportunity to speak to him in passing and his last words were filled with humor. I thought about my dear friend who had just lost her brother and best friend. I thought about his wife whom he adored and cherished beyond measure and his 3 girls that were the light of his life. As I read your entry, I said to myself I wonder if people can communicate through a parallel universe because almost the exact same thoughts were running through my head as I sat with mother during the service. I gazed often at the bereaved family and thought about their heartache, pain, denial, anger, and acceptance. I wished them peace and God's grace as I do for the family of Curt. Ross your purpose is very clear and you continue to shine your light among many. Continue to be that beacon. You actually may or may not know it, but you helped somebody today.

Be blessed.

Dr. Rhonda said...

Ross, When I read your post I marveled at the fact that you and my boss attended the same funeral. Although I did not know Curt I learned about his life and death through his mother's best friend, who is my boss. As I sit here reading the program from his funeral I too see how he touched so many lives in his 31 years. Curt touched so many, and look how his life/death has pulled Chicago, Atlanta, LA, and Maryland together (at the least). A connection that only God can ordain. Your blog post, the funeral program, and my discussion with my boss about Curt has touched my heart in so many ways. As I always say - God has a way of pulling people together and putting them where he wants them. We may not know why but that is our task to complete. Peace.

ms.deda said...

This is the first time I am reading your blog and this post just went right through me. Recently, I have been thing about life, death, and what's in between....

Thank you