First off I'd like to say a huge thank you to so many of you for posting to my topic regarding my friend's memorial a couple of weeks ago.
All of the information was read and all suggestions considered, and many were utilized. I figured that at least a couple of you on this forum would be able to contribute to what was then, my upcoming involvement in my friend's memorial.
Well, we held it yesterday early evening (March 8th). Friends of (Robert was his name) Robert, prepared food and desserts, and we arranged tables and chairs to accomodate family, friends and co-workers.
We held it at a tavern/art bar in downtown Toronto. (http://www.thecameron.com) There are 2 sections. One: is a front area with seating and the main bar, with a small stage towards the back; Two: where we were, is an area in the back that has a larger stage, and seating, with rows of booth-like benches like a mini-theatre away from the stage to the back.
The soundman at the tavern, set-up the microphone for us, and we had a small stereo system to use: Robert's favourite music. So it was so wonderful.
Gradually, aside from the bunch of us setting up the food, stage and seating, people began to arrive. Once people seated themselves, they had some snacks, or they went to the bar to order a drink. It was a very relaxed and friendly environment which was evident by how easily everyone mingled with one another.
Our officiator: an interfaith chaplin, arrived around 6 p.m. and I went around asking family and friends regarding who wanted to speak, or give their thoughts, poetry, or experiences regarding Robert. I compiled a list of people's names, and handed them to the chaplin. I'd say around 6:30 p.m. the chaplin went on stage, introduced himself and discussed the purpose of: "Robert's Memorial".
The chaplin used interfaith messages and offered a Navajo prayer. He spoke a little about Robert, as he had met him at my 40th birthday party in September 2002. It was really nice, and I could tell that language the chaplin used was tangible, appropriate and appealed to the many different people in attendance. It helped that he had met Robert before.
As the Memorial was underway, various family members and friends related their stories, many of which were hilarious! We were laughing, smiling and sometimes: crying. But it was such a celebration of Robert's life. It was a healthy display of human emotion.
We had walls of photographs on display of Robert from when he was a little boy to recent. We had some of his favourite music playing throughout the evening. There was one beer, at the back of the stage: Molson Dry - as Robert would drink that when he'd come to the bar. It was a symbol of sorts. It was quite touching actually to see that.
Near the end of the Memorial, a special announcement was given. Robert was an ardent volunteer. He was also on a few local board of directors here in Toronto (charitable groups). He was an advocate for people with facial anomolies (he lived with NF - neurofybromytosis). The group is called: ABOUT FACE. We had a donation box with literature and Robert's contributions to this particular society he was involved with.
An award was set up in his name for Volunteer of the Year. It will be given out by one of Robert's family members to a member of the community who displays exceptional or unique volunteer qualities. So, his name lives on. The award will be given, perpetually. His name will be associated with volunteer organizations across Toronto from this point onward.
I'm proud to have been Robert's friend, and he is sorely missed by so many. The stories told from the stage were so wonderful, and many times I was almost rolling on the floor with laughter. I spoke for a little while, relating our family similarities, as his family were from Nova Scotia as well as mine, so I would put on a fake accent (that our parents spoke with). I was able to get some of his older sisters and brothers, laughing at those stories.
Just thought I'd post that update. I know Cruzanheart & Big Tex hosted a memorial for Cruzanheart's father, and I did think of that too while I was at Robert's Memorial. Thanks to you two for your kind words.
Honestly, if and when people consider this (Memorial) as a means of remembering and celebrating the life of a family member, friend or partner, I strongly encourage it. It really does help in the healing process and gives so much comfort, I cannot begin to tell you how much. One has to experience it personally, to fully comprehend the positive impact that it has.
To all of you who kindly made suggestions, I put many of them into use. They worked like a charm.
Thank you all. Thanks for reading this.
Feeling much better and happier today.
Love, RAY (Rayzorblade)