Sometime in the next three hours I have to make a decision, one I have, fortunately, never had to contemplate before. I have to choose between two funerals. Same day, same time, two different cities.
I should find solace in the fact that my life is richly blessed with people that I care about, and whose funerals I want to attend, to say goodbye or support their families - rather than the alternative. I am struggling mightily with what to do, and have even considered attending neither, but, ultimately, I think sitting both out would be selfish. But, enough about my dilemma. Let's talk about Allen.
Several years ago, I took a crazy leap and drove five hours to a ranch in Bandera, Texas, to meet with a group of strangers that I only knew of from this magical thing we call the internet. I had never stepped out like that before, and, for all I knew there would be sacrificial offerings under the full moon, or orgies, or mass murder. None of those things happened - that I know of. I do recall pulling into the ranch and seeing a truck plastered with political bumper stickers and flying a "Don't Tread On Me" flag - years before said flag was 'cool', and thinking that I probably wasn't 'out' enough with my political views to keep up with this group. That was Allen's truck, and he was one of the first to welcome me into the greatest group of strangers I have had the privilege of knowing.
Allen came to Bandera twice, missing out on other gatherings as his involvement in hometown and Libertarian politics increased. He lived not too far from me, and our paths crossed several times in the ensuing years. We kept more in touch through social media and email. After reading a mutual blog-friend's book, I passed it on to Allen. In return, he gifted me with a Dachshund. I still haven't decided who got the better deal.
I first met some of Allen's family this past May, at an event he referred to as his 'pre-funeral', held weeks after his glioblastoma diagnosis. It was heartwarming and heartbreaking. I am glad I had that chance to hug his neck, tell him he was loved, and make a memory that I will forever cherish.
If you didn't know Allen, or read his blog, you missed out. And, while it might seem tiresome to sift through the (now outdated) political posts, you won't regret reading these stories and getting a glimpse of the humor and warmth that defined this man that has been taken from us too soon:
The Caramel Pie Story
The Tragic Story of Albert's Fingers
What to do with 250 copies of the Book of Mormon
Rest in Peace, Allen.