Well, with a heavy heart, I made the voyage to Lousiana for Tripp's funeral tomorrow. Two cool things to share about the journey:
1. I walked up to the Budget rental car counter with a fierce headache. The agent, Sharon, couldn't have been nicer. She began some polite small talk as she was processing my car. After asking if I'm here on business, I share I'm here for Tripp's funeral.
"Is that the boy with the skin condition that I've seen all over facebook?" She asked.
"Yep. That's him." I replied.
"Oh no! I didn't know he passed!" She frowned.
We continue to talk and share and after a while, I give her ours and Tripp's blog addresses. She shares how she wants to contribute to causes, and to volunteer in the NICU holding and rocking babies. I witnessed this amazing ministry when Bella was in the NICU. So, I got her to promise to call the volunteer office by the end of the month to begin. She lit up, and said, "That's it! All I needed was a deadline!"
We had the most tender conversation between a rental car agent and a weary traveler. God is present, even at the rental counter.
2. When looking at where to stay tonight, it was no more expensive to stay in the French Quarter than to stay at a vanilla, cookie-cutter hotel airport. So, I had a thought. I'm gonna stay in a historic building and go to Preservation Hall to listen to my dad's favorite jazz band, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. So, I found a great old hotel two blocks from Preservation Hall for a whopping $62 a night. Because my flight got in late, I only had 30 minutes till their set ended, so I headed straight to the Hall. It was unlike anywhere I've ever been. It was literally a time warp. My dad was 44 when he had me in 1972, and when I was little, cassette tapes of New Orleans ragtime jazz lined the glove compartment of my dad's 1980 Buick Century. He played piano by ear, and loved playing stride and ragtime by ear, and man, he could tear it up. But, like so much of my dad, he kept his love for and playing of jazz private, reserving the moments of his playing and listening to when no one, or maybe just one person might be around.
When my dad was dying of cancer, he told me he wanted to have "Weary Blues," by The Preservation Hall Jazz Band played at his funeral. Well, that's an UPBEAT New Orleans jazz tune, and I chickened out and didn't request it.
Tonight, I did.
The Jazz club is tiny, no microphones, cushions on the floor for the first two rows, benches for the next two rows, and the back of the room is just the floor. It is incredibly intimate. Well, time was running out on their set, and I came to the side door and asked them if I could make a request.
"A music request?" the trumpeter asked.
There I was, the whole room and the band looking at me in total silence (no joke), waiting for an answer.
"Could you play Weary Blues for my dad up in heaven?"
Truth be told, I didn't even know how the song went, but I knew it was my dad's favorite, and it's something I've never really talked about with anyone before, so I was nervous even just saying the song name.
They could tell I was really nervous, and so they said, "Weary Blues? Weary Blues, yeah, we can do that one." Then the trombone player shook my hand with a twinkle in his eye and said, "Alright, alright!" in the most laid back, creole/nawlins way with a smile, as if to say, "Good work, kid." (At least 4 of the 6 in the band must be twice my age)
And so they did.
And as the familiar thumping style that I so vividly remember from my childhood filled the room, as the tears filled my eyes, a smile filled my face, and joy filled my heart.
There I was, in New Orleans, in Preservation Hall, and THE band itself was playing my dad's favorite tune FOR HIM.
I kinda feel like I made up for his funeral in a way tonight.
Tomorrow is Tripp's funeral: a joyous celebration of a life that changed lives, and will continue to change lives all over this planet. I realized that I was coming to mourn his passing and loss, but really, I think I'm here to celebrate his life. Pain and joy can co-habitate my heart. They've done it a thousand times before over these past almost 3 years. They'll do it again tomorrow.
Also, our friend Patrice Williams, Jonah's mommy, is flying in tomorrow from North Carolina with not a lot of time to spare. It is a trip of many firsts for her, and she is understandably nervous about leaving Jonah and Matt and handling all the travel logistics on her own, since Matt is usually in charge of that duty for the family. Will you say a prayer for her safe and timely arrival? She humbly requested this on her blog, and so please send her some love and comfort, will you?
Lastly, please pray for our friend Courtney. Tomorrow is going to be many things, and A LOT of people are naturally going to show up to share their love and support. I remember Bella's memorial in CA as a blur. It was wonderful to see so many people take time out of their busy lives to be there, but it was also stressful to try to be present and connect with everyone who came out. It still feels a bit like a dream. Please send Courtney strength so she has the physical and mental energy to be with so many people after being in her home with Tripp for so long. Please send her comfort as she has to say goodbye to his earthly body for the last time, and send her love to will help replenish all the love she has poured out of her heart for that amazing little boy.