I just returned from a beautiful service honouring the life of Reid A. Parent, a 25 year old man who touched the lives of tons of people before his untimely death in a car accident.
Reid was the main speaker at the event. His words were all over the program–several of his journal entries revealed a creative, philosophical man who loved others and adored life. His Sweater Video gave a discussion of how most people will lie and tell you that your sweater is beautiful, even if it’s the ugliest thing on earth, but that his own mother sincerely believes any sweater on him becomes beautiful. I love the shock on his face when he realizes his mother honestly believes in the beauty. Other videos of him rapping and singing were played. Pictures of him showed a life of daring himself to be himself in all situations, and a life of making sure that he found “the goodness in other people,” as his stepdad, Darrell Hookey remarked. His family and friends had the funniest stories about him–stories where he turned life into a beautiful game, and made every moment count. Reid was there–all over the place–and he said his peace, and keeps saying his peace, through those who loved and knew him.
I am so glad there are celebrations of life–like participatory memoirs, we get a full picture of the life of a person, and get to celebrate what he gave that life. It was horribly short, but it was grandly full. And the proof was in the hundreds of people who showed up in Whitehorse, not to mention the hundreds that showed up in BC for the first memorial service.
His sister, Leah, another beautiful soul, said all she could do was howl–and so she invited us all to howl. And we did. All of us. Howled like a pack of wolves who had lost their leader. It seemed to me that Reid led a lot of people away from the brooding part of life into the happiness part. Darrell Hookey challenged the crowd to live lives that took in every moment. He didn’t accept our little silent nods. He said we should answer that challenge the way Reid always did, with a “Hell yeah!” And so he posed the question again, and pointed to us, and just like our earlier howl, we responded with a hearty “HELL YEAH” as we promised Reid, and ourselves, that time would not get away from us, that we would live full lives, and that we would love others as part of living full lives.
So many funerals can be much more final, more, shall I say, depressing, but this one was full of pain, yes, but was also full of celebration and promise–as Reid now inhabits all of us through his stories, his videos, his music, his writings, his friends, his family. Reid goes on in particle form, or as the emcee said, he goes on in “seed” form…planting a renewed, and vigorous, life-living plant inside of us.
Go out there and howl, and let your yesses be Hell Yeahs. And give people enough of yourself that when you leave this Earth, you leave behind a garden of goodness and good stories.
God bless you, Reid Parent. God bless you Darrell and Daisy, Leah, and all the relatives and all the friends who carry Reid’s seeds of joy.