It was a sort of family wake, the family remembering things he had done and said. You know how it goes: the release of tension and the shedding of tears loosened tongues and it really was quite hilarious. It put balance back into life after days and nights and weeks of intolerable aching.
Some of the things they said about him, though, hurt me. Some anecdotes painted him as hard and mean and cruel. They were said without malice, simple statements of fact, and I couldn’t deny the truth of them. What hurt so much was that I was at a loss to defend him diplomatically. I didn’t know how to answer the charges that flew among the fun things. It was pointless to deny the stories. He was hard, but then his life had been harder than most and he had to survive in a strange country as a teenager. He was mean, but he lived at a time when working was only one door off slavery and being mean most of the time meant he could sometimes be generous.
He was never sadistic, never petty, never temperamental. He was more harsh and mean and hard on himself than on anyone else.
I felt for a long time that I had betrayed him and the memory of the evening disturbed me. I mourned that he was hardly cold when I had let things be said that I felt did not show a true picture of him.
Then one day I understood it from a new direction. I realised that all who knew him, saw him according to their measure of him.
What they said of him was quite true but I simply had not seen him that way. I saw him from a different attitude. I hadn’t seen any faults in him. You see, I loved him.
And God says that is how He sees you and me: faultless, Jude 24, “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy …”
Staggering, isn’t it.