From all over the city, from all over the state, we gathered. We filled a large cathedral. Every seat taken, and many of us filled the aisles, down the middle, down the sides and in the foyer. Each straining to hear, most not able to even see. We stood for nearly three hours.
As I looked around me, I saw the mighty. Senators and Mayors and Governors. Business Leaders and Socialites. But also like me, the common people. The everyday people touched by a man who also inspired us that we could do great things, because he did.
And all around me, the look of the grief stricken. Still stunned, still struggling to make sense of things that make no sense.
Our former Governor gave the Eulogy. One of the best I have ever heard given, and I've been to more than my fair share of funerals. We all laughed, with tears glistening in our eyes, as we thought of the man whose life we gathered to celebrate. And then I wept, along with men and women all around me. I'm so happy that the Denver Post published the eulogy in its' entirety. Take a few moments and read it. Noel's Eulogy
Anyone reading this................please say a prayer for his lovely wife Tammy, and the rest of the family.
As our Governor mentioned, everyone there today has a Noel story...............and so do I.
I met Noel when I was asked to come to his restaurant and talk with him about a large charitable event he was putting on. I, like most, was drawn in, and ended up working with him on the event. The event was complicated and difficult to pull off, two days of set up prior to a Sunday event, outdoors. By the time the day of the event came, I was run down physically and though I didn't really feel too bad, I had lost my voice. All day long at the event, Noel kept asking what he could do for me, how I was feeling. He wouldn't stop enquiring. He insisted I come along back to the restaurant after the long day, where many from the committee gathered, and he fed us all at a big table on the patio. He insisted that nothing on the menu was good enough for The Husband, so he disappeared into the kitchen and cooked a steak for him.
Early the next morning, my cell phone rang. It was Noel. He asked how I was feeling and told me it was very important that I come down to the restaurant. I asked what was wrong, he wouldn't answer, just insisted I come down. Thinking something had gone wrong, I arrived just before 11, and asked for him at the hostess stand. The hostess came back and told me to have a seat at the bar, Noel would be right with me. I nervously sat, thinking somehow I had let down this man I had already come to love. Around the corner he came, blue eyes twinkling with a large bowl in his hands. "Here's your lunch.". He sat in front of me the best bowl of chicken soup I've ever had, because it was made by him, with love. He kissed my cheek, and ran back into the restaurant. I'll never forget the bartender, saying.............."You're the one. He was here early this morning, chopping vegetables. He made it himself." And when I left, he sent the "leftovers" home with me. Enough to feed me for days.
I was hooked. And never told him no when he called.
MY FRIEND Noel was that kind of man. And thousands have a story just like that.
"The pain passes, but the beauty remains". --Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
"Mourning is one of the most profound human experiences that it is possible to have... The deep capacity to weep for the loss of a loved one and to continue to treasure the memory of that loss is one of our noblest human traits".-- Shneidman (1980)
Someone dear to me left the planet last week. It was, (once again) sudden and unexpected.
He was a man I met through business contacts. But then he turned out to be one of the most profoundly loving and giving people I have ever met.
Sometimes in life, we meet someone who changes the course of our life. Sometimes by circumstance, sometimes by the sheer force of the life they live in front of us.
Noel, my friend, left a legacy of profound love, charity and giving. He, along with his lovely wife, literally changed the world.
They changed the world. They feed the hungry and clothed the naked and took care of the widows.
Everything Jesus asked us, as His followers to do.
Noel built schools in Ethiopia, and fed the hungry of Denver, and along the way drug thousands of us along with him, asking us.............."what are you doing?"
In the most profound mystery of it all, we find out that he took his own life.
How is this possible? The man with the twinkling blue eyes and the the Irish brogue? The man with the biggest heart I've ever witnessed?
What level of despair could he have faced that took him to that moment?
I have no answers and my heart is broken.
On Friday I will join the many, many friends of this amazing man and celebrate his life in one of the cathedrals of Denver.