Falmouth is a town that knows affluence, privilege, ambition, and competition. So there is a tendency – maybe even a pressure – to believe that such things are what matter most in life.
Last week, I sat in the back of the Congregational Church and witnessed another side to Falmouth. In a memorial service – initiated and led by the high school senior class to honor one of their own – I watched not only those young men and women, but parents, teachers, counselors, administrators, friends and neighbors come together in a manner remarkable for its poignancy and resolve.
This young man’s friends paid tribute to the qualities in him they found most admirable – chief among them his proud embrace of individuality and staunch refusal to stand in judgement of others. In songs they expressed both their profound sorrow and abiding appreciation for the life he led. From a teacher came eloquent evidence of the depth of commitment our educators feel toward their students; from an administrator came a simple request for an act of unison – one immediately, gratefully granted by those in attendance.
I wept for the gestures of loss, of compassion, and ultimately of love so palpable among those gathered for this occasion; in tribute to a wonderful young man, each was also a show of support for one another – a sense of community in its purest and most resonant form, and a powerful reminder, amidst so much sadness, of what is truly important in life.