Libby had very definitive plans for her memorial service and those plans extended beyond her desire to have some funny stories told about our life together; she wanted her best friend Helen Hawkins to sing, “……..if Miss Helen thinks she can make it through the song without crying”. In addition, Libby wanted me to ask our friend Doug Richesin to sing as well, “That way,” Libby continued, “If Miss Helen doesn’t make it through her song, Doug will still be able to provide some music.”
In the days leading up to Libby’s Memorial service I talked to Doug and he said, “Barry, when I heard the news about Libby, I thought of the perfect song and I hoped you would call and ask me to sing. You see I believe that as soon as Libby got to heaven she greeted her friends and family, then said, ‘This is all great, but I want to see Jesus’, so I would like to sing I Bowed on My Knees and Cried Holy.”
I told Doug ” I do love that song, but I’m just not sure it is appropriate for a funeral.” Doug reminded me that Libby didn’t want a funeral or “funeral songs”, but he give me a couple of other options to consider as I thought about his original recommendation. “While you are thinking about it,” he said, “listen to the words again, then let me know.”
The reason I hesitated to have Doug sing that particular song was because both the song and Doug’s voice are both so powerful I was afraid of the awkward moment at the end of the song when those in attendance would very likely feel the need to applaud, but like me, they had never been to a funeral where people applauded……….. for any reason.
I took Doug’s advice and began searching for his recording of the song but after looking in all of the obvious places I was about to give up, then I remembered that Libby kept some CD’s in the console of her car which had not been driven since she went into the hospital three months earlier.
I searched Libby’s car without any luck and then as a last resort I turned on the car’s ignition to eject whatever CD was still in the player. Although some may find it hard to believe, Libby often listened to her “getting happy” gospel music at full volume, often rattling the windows, so it wasn’t complete surprise when music blasted from the speakers as I turned the key. The surprise for me was that the song was “I Bowed on My Knees and Cried Holy” as Doug’s voice was belting it out in full volume from the car’s CD.
I am typically skeptical when someone says to me that some particular event was , ” a sign from God” because too many people use the term flippantly and many people bend the facts to fit their own personal agenda, but as I sat in Libby’s car on that March afternoon listening to that song repeatedly (still at full volume) I was confident which song I wanted for Libby’s Memorial Service.
In the end, I should not have worried about people clapping for a performance; oh, there was a lot of clapping and even some shouting, but there was no awkward moment as every one in attendance that day saw heaven through Libby’s eyes and the applause was for a life well lived not merely a song well sung.