Remembering and Celebrating


#sol19- January 8, 2019

I was in Berlin recently and my very good friend’s husband (also a good friend!) passed away. A year ago he was diagnosed with ALS, so his family had months of grief already. When it was time to plan the memorial service, as usual, Lisa worked to make it an inclusive event. Part of her invitation read:

“We invite and appreciate your contributions to the memorial service, be it in words, in music or any other form.

If you would like to participate, please let us know by Thursday.

Following the program part of the celebration, we hope to stay together with everyone and talk, sing, make music, eat and drink and do all the things Erasmus liked to do.

If you like, please bring instruments with you, we will provide you with notes from Erasmus’ favorite pieces and anyone who wants can join in some spontaneous music-making.

Also bring stories and photos that remind you and us of Erasmus. We will create a space for written words and photos.

For planning purposes please RSVP if you are coming. However anyone who decides

spontaneously to join is still very welcome!”


There were many people who wanted to be involved. There were 19 parts in the end. There were musicians Erasmus had worked with who wanted to play a range of music- a testament to Erasmus’s talent at playing and arranging. There were also speakers- both friends and family members-in German and English, who spoke with love about Erasmus through the years. There were several songs where everybody was asked to stand and join in, including Seasons of Love. This song had me thinking long afterward even though I have heard it many times.

Everybody agreed it was just the kind of evening that Erasmus would have loved.  A few of my takeaways from this celebration of a life well lived are:

  • people are complicated- it was lovely to hear more about facets of Erasmus’s life that I did not know much about
  • #lovewins (it was so moving to see and hear the range of participants (and taste the food that was also prepared with heart). Lisa’s parents and siblings flew in from Minnesota to be there.
  • sometimes you can choose your family (I am so lucky to have found this framily)
  • how do you measure a year? A life?

I will remember Erasmus as a steadfast supporter. Although a talented performer he was not about the spotlight. He quietly found ways for others to shine. Erasmus helped me personally with his skills in translation, his knowledge of how things work in Germany, his driving skills when I had to get rid of things before I moved away. his muscle when I moved in, his friendliness when he included me in various events, his ease. I appreciated the way he shared his family with me and am grateful for these forever friends. He was a listener and taught by being a strong example. He really lived his life aligned with his beliefs. I know that he will be missed by so many.


Zhi Hong keeps slicing (former student).


3 thoughts on “Remembering and Celebrating

  1. So sorry for the loss of your friend. So glad you shared all about his celebration. So inclusive. So celebratory. As a teacher, it is what I want each day in my classroom to be. A perfect model!

  2. The celebration sounds just beautiful. I can only imagine how powerful it was. I am interested in your comment, “People are complicated.” How interesting it is to learn more about a person after they have passed.

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