On Friday, January 8, 2016, Mack went home to Springfield, and we laid her to rest in Oak Ridge Cemetery. There is some comfort and peace knowing that she will sleep easy in her hometown and that the people who loved her will have a beautiful place to commune with her spirit. It was a difficult day, but I was enveloped in the loving arms of family; and I found the strength to read the following eulogy I had written for the occasion…
We should not be here today. It is not right that we are laying to rest our sweet and silly girl. It is not fair that Mack had just twenty years on this earth. She deserved more time. We deserved more time. The world deserved more time. Here among these graves, under these old oaks, and in the shadow of Mr. Lincoln’s tomb, I am stricken by the cruel and bitter reality of my loss. Of our loss. Of the world’s loss. But as is our human condition, our lives are fragile. We cannot escape tragedy. We cannot keep sorrow away. We cannot choose all that falls upon our shoulders. And, indeed, the weight of the world has fallen upon our shoulders. So here we now stand in this historic and beautiful and peaceful cemetery, placing our Mack in the arms of eternity.
It feels right that Mack should return to Springfield. It was her hometown. It was the setting for her cheerful childhood, her spirited teens, and her assorted and amazing athletic accomplishments. It was the environment in which she learned about herself and the world. It was the context of her intellectual growth and of the development of her extraordinary character. It was the place in which she crafted that zany personality, honed her comedic skills, devoured uncountable plates of Pad Thai, and made so many cherished best friends.
Since the very first time that I visited this cemetery more than twenty-five years ago, I have been in awe of this special place. I have always felt calm and at peace in the presence of the Lincoln Tomb. Lincoln’s spirit whispers on every breeze here, and the history of Springfield rests here. It is a graceful and serene place, but it is a powerful and hallowed place as well. Mack deserves to rest in this special garden of Springfield spirits and historic whisperers. It is altogether fitting that Mack should stay here at Oak Ridge with Mr. Lincoln. She will be safe here. Her spirit will rest easy here. She will belong to the ages here.
Locating Mack at Oak Ridge: