03_21_09.jpgCelebration of life has become a popular description for funerals over the past few years. And while I agree with the concept, the reality of celebrating my husband's life while trying to grasp the idea that he was not coming home, ever, was hard for me to do at his funeral. While the services we planned to commemorate Phil's' life were truly beautiful; that day was a blur of images and emotions that I would not exactly classify as a celebration.

Time, however, has provided some perspective. As the days, weeks, months, and years since I began this journey of loss and recovery have passed I have learned how to truly celebrate the life of remarkable men who have touched more people in their too brief lives than they themselves would ever have imagined.

Today, we celebrate a man named Daniel Dippel. Fun loving, direct, irreverently hilarious, and the fortunate owner of great legs...Daniel loved a good party. And so a Mardi Gras-themed craw fish boil on a lovely lawn, filled with friends old and new, is the perfect way to honor the impact this man has made on the people who will gather to raise a beer in his memory.

As I type these words, I can see him out on the lawn orchestrating the cooking (lobster earring dangling), yelling out a greeting to an incoming guest, and asking someone to change the music. Funny thing is, I never met him. And from his absence in Michelle Dippel's life a gift was born...a friendship that has graced my life and hers, and the opportunity to know him as a longtime friend.

So Mr. Dippel...I'll raise a glass to you today, eat craw fish for the third time in my life, listen to the countless stories your friends and family lovingly recall, and truly celebrate the fact that you brought your many unique gifts to this world...though we all know that the time you were able to share them was much too short. The brevity of his life does not lessen his impact though, in fact, I'd venture to guess that the opposite is true; your spirit lives on in each and every heart that gathers here today and inspires us to live in the moment.

Today we celebrate the life of Daniel Dippel, and thank him for the excuse to throw one heck of a party.

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