Prairie Home Funeral

My student Laural's funeral was held today at the 4-H Building on the fairgrounds in Ada. People kept pouring in until there were more people standing than sitting. Then, they had to open the big garage doors and have people stand outside to the west looking in. With the perfect fall day, having the big garage door open worked well.

When I talked to Sheila's mother after Laural's accident, she asked me if I had any ideas for a funeral. I volunteered to try to come up with some. Eventually about three of us worked together over email on finding songs and arranging things. I was assigned to be the MC. The plans were still coming together this afternoon, and it worked out fine.

It was sad to see the kids crying. Even though Laural was at UMC and had been home schooled for some time before that, the local school changed football practice and volleyball practice for Laural's funeral. Somebody commented that Laural would have loved it, since she hated the whole high school football thing with a passion.

There was a very large turnout of kids. I was amazed. I recognized many UMC students. Laural was active in many clubs and organizations in addition to her devotion to 4-H.

The one part of the funeral service which made me nervous was the time when people were to share their thoughts about Laural. There can be some uncomfortable silences in those situations. I am a little impatient with uncomfortable silences, so I feared I would rush things as I ran around with the microphone like Oprah.

It worked out pretty well. Some of Laural's friends in the front row told a few stories, and then things got rolling and I would say perhaps 10-15 people spoke, covering quite a range of experience.

Most touching was a kid who met Laural this summer at a camp and, as he put it, "She, like, fell in love with me in ten minutes."

They went out for one month, and it didn't work out (I would say that's longer than average for a summer camp romance), but he said he still loved her and had driven three hours to pay his respects.

The poor kid was sort of lost. I talked with him afterwards for quite some time and he talked about when he got the email that Laural had died and how tough it was to go on with school. He talked and talked. I asked him how he got food so soon, and he said, oh he latched onto the family and got right up front. Pretty soon he was back with seconds and the line had moved two feet from where I was standing!

Victor from Nigeria, a delightful but overly laid-back student of mine from two years ago who never showed up on time no matter what-- that is when he bothered to show up at all--commented on Laural's insistence upon arriving very early for everything. He didn't understand it. Never could. But man, could she make good cookies!

Another foreign student said that at one time, when she first arrived, "Laural was my only friend."

And so, the funeral went fine, as fine as a funeral for an eighteen-year-old could go.