This is going to be a very long & detailed entry. I don't want to risk forgetting details, as today was an important, yet sad day. I once used to write in this journal as if it were a diary, which was something I had considered doing again given my awful memory as of late. I shall do so today.
I woke up bright & early to book it to Fife's place. He & I both headed to Loudon to go to the church, the Sledding Church as we & so many others called it. When we arrived though, the roads were lined with cars. We drove around & around trying to find a stretch of road we could park on, but there were so many people. Fife ended up dropping me off while he went to find a place to park. I briefly talked with a woman that Brian knew, who had accidentally gone to the wrong church by accident first. She told me "If I had known it was the Sledding Church, I would've known which one right away." I then told her about how years ago, when I was in Venturing, the Venturers & Scouts used to go to that church to sled. Jack included.
There was a long line to get in, & I knew it was going to be rough. I could see Mr. Rice by the door, & I could tell he was struggling to handle Jack's passing. He was so choked up, he couldn't talk. That alone made me tear up badly. Mr. Rice was once Troop 247's scout master, & someone I saw as a leader figure. To see him brought speechless by tears, it really got to me. Fife caught up with me in time before we got inside. When it was my turn to greet Mr. Rice, all he could do was hug me tight. I'm never good at words, & socially awkward at best, so all I could think to say & do was to hug him back tightly & tell him I was so sorry. Brian was also there, & I gave him a hug as well. It was good to see him, though I did admit that I badly wished it was under happier circumstances. Between the pair of them, I was nearly overcome with tears myself. I signed the guest book that was on a stand out in the foyer of the church before Fife & realized it was standing room only, & we would not even be able to get into the main church room.
We went to stand by the other door on the other side of the foyer, passing a pastor standing by a rope coming through the ceiling. There, I ran into Colby & Tabor, who I hadn't seen since the Venturing days. It was only then that I had learned that their father, David Powelson, had passed away about a year or so ago. (I just looked it up. He passed away September 17, 2016, from a pulmonary embolism.) This really bummed me out, & still bums me out, as he was really a nice guy & I liked him a lot. He was only 59. Soon after we took our spots standing near the door, Mr Rice & Brian came into the church & took their seats on the front row pews. The pastor, who had been standing by the rope, began to pull it to ring the church bell.
The pastor then moved to the front of the church, where he lit candles by the podium, & I could see pictures propped up on a chair, along with other items. I found out what they were at the reception after the services: A piston, a can of beer, I think a couple of tools, his favorite cap, his work boots (which really got to me the most), letters & cards, a book, & of course the empty chair. He began with prayer, & a song was sung by most of the attendees. I finally learned what had happened & what his cause of death was. The pastor told everyone that those who felt guilty for what had happened, should not feel guilty, & another prayer was said. He then went straight into it: Suicide. Jack had died by suicide. I was worried that this was the case, given the unexpected nature. I never thought drug overdose for a second. It would not have been like Jack, especially not when he had his little boy.
After the pastor was done speaking, he invited people up to share their memories, stories, & eulogies for Jack. Mr & Mrs Rice, John & Jan, they went first. This is where I almost entirely lost it crying again. Jan was struggling to speak, & John just couldn't. He tried, but kept getting choked up, & eventually he had to sit back down. He just couldn't talk anymore. Andy went next, & he used humor to be able to speak. Boy, Andy really has not changed over the years since I had seen him last. Heh, when he got up, he had a blue Solo cup & he said "Boy, this juice is f.... Good!" He told us funny stories about Jack, leading off with "If you knew Jack, you'll know that his life was not PG or even PG13 rated." He shared personal stories of Jack, both of their fights & of his kindness & fearlessness. Jack, who around the age of 17 or so, scrambled up a tree to cut someone free from a rope swing when their foot got caught & left their head submerged in water. Jack, who'd be there to help anyone day or night, even going all the way to Maryland to get Andrew once despite no sleep. He used jokes & humor to tell us about Jack, & it had us all laughing. Brian went up next, & immediately (jokingly) apologized for not being as entertaining. Brian had a tough time speaking as well, & got choked up at the end.
A few others spoke up as well, including a face I hadn't seen in years: Nora. Cullen was also there, & he spoke up as well. He shared how he had first met Jack, shared his memories from Scouting, & finished his eulogy with "Catch you on the flipside." Nora came up & mentioned Scouting, talking about how she'd help Jack when he'd have his moments where he was all over the place energy-wise or was angry. She told Mr & Mrs. Rice that Jack was the reason why she went into her career, where she teaches at a school for troubled students. She told them, "Jack really did have a huge impact on my life." The mother of Jack's son also spoke up as well, as well as Jack's I-think-girlfriend.
When everyone had shared their stories, met with both tears & laughter, more prayer was given, a final song, & the service concluded. I saw more faces I hadn't seen in years then as well. Jenna walked by, to which I briefly said hi & shook her hand. Mr. Higman was also there, someone I had forgotten entirely about, even though I was just trying to remember his son's names a few days ago. (Max & Ben, I think? I was also trying to remember Tom & his father's name, too. Mrs. Fife had to help me out with that: Oakley, & Mr. Schmidl) We briefly talked to Mrs. Powelson before we went into the main church room to try to see the photos, which had been moved to the reception. We spoke with Jan briefly. I expressed my condolences once again. I also told her that because I hadn't seen Jack in person in years, I remembered him primarily from when he was younger. Little Jack. It's been years since I've seen him & person & he was a grown man, but he was always that energetic & creative kid. I spoke with Mr. Rice once more, & gave him one more hug. The last thing he said to me was "Thank you for being Jack's friend." Just thinking about him saying that to me, & that thought, it has me choked up right now. I really am glad that I knew Jack.
We went into the adjoining room where there was a potluck meal underway. I got some sort of meatballs with mushrooms in a gravy, a couple of Swedish meatballs, & mac & cheese from the crockpots. For dessert, I had a slice of lemon loaf/cake, & a brownie. I talked to Nora briefly. We talked about work, what we did for a living (and I felt a bit silly in comparison by my saying "Retail management" when I was asked what I was doing) Fife ran into other people he knew from Scouting, people that were along before I came along. A TJ, I think? I'm horrible with names. This was also where I saw the photos of Jack & the items, like his boots & his hat. There was a picture of John from 4th grade, & alongside it a picture of Jack from 4th grade, & they looked so much alike. There were so many photos, old & new, including a couple from our Scouting days. I suppose this is a good time to try to remind myself to find the pictures from Old Home Day 2006, when we had the bucking bull barrel ride, & he was dressed up funny. I wanted to get all of my pictures I had of Jack printed out to give to them, but work kept me busy enough that I didn't get a chance, so I really have to do that soon.
It was a very touching service, & several times it took all of my willpower to keep from bursting into tears. As it was, I teared up & started to cry several ties. Seeing Mr. Rice so broken like that.... It hurt. To think that out of the Rice trio of brothers, the youngest is now gone... It's heartbreaking. I still can't wrap my head around it. Venturing was during a better part of my life. I don't know if I'd say happier, as I was having my own struggles at the time, but it was certainly less worse than now. I cherish all of those memories I had with everyone & miss so much of it. I was happy to see some faces I hadn't seen in years, even if it was under these circumstances. (As Fife says, "You know what they say... Funerals & weddings.") Jack was an energetic spirit, & after seeing how many people gathered for him today, the lasting impact he left was far greater than I could've imagined. Rest in peace, Jack Rice.
I suppose I may as well write about the rest of the day, as some of it touched on nostalgia stemming back to those Venturing days.
We left after a little while, & walked down the back of the church driveway alongside a little farm to get to the car. I passed by some cows, which I was fascinated with. One of them kept staring at me. I also ran into an inquisitive goat as well, who came close enough to let me get a picture on my phone. When we left, Fife asked if I was in any rush to get back & I said no. We ended up going up onto Loudon Ridge Road, a place I haven't been in years. We stopped over at Windswept Maples, where the Moores have their farm. They were boiling maple syrup, so I smelled that wonderful maple smell in the air that I hadn't enjoyed since working at the Pearle's farm years & years ago. We got to step out back where they had the syrup boiling, which I hadn't seen since those days many years ago. It was wonderful & touched on nostalgia. I ended up buying a pink of their syrup, as well as some candies. One little bag of candy for me, & one to send to Karina, since I think it would be nice to send her something that is local to me. (I forgot her name, but Mrs. Moore, who was working in their store, I think she seemed happy to hear that someone in the UK was going to enjoy one of their products)
From there, we stopped over to Gilmanton Winery, which Fife told me was a really cool place I had to see. I also had never been to a winery before, so I was excited. When we arrived though, they were closed, also for a funeral. We then went along & ended up driving by the Pearle's farm. I had not seen that place in years & years, & I got hit with memories & nostalgia. I saw the white shed near the main building, & remembered the picnic table that was once behind it where we all sat. (And in fact, I have a group picture on that table) I remembered the fields, the building, & the view looking down from the ridge. It almost hurt to see because the nostalgia hit me so hard. We also kept driving along & drove by the place where I took one of my earlier photos, the white farmhouse on top of a (very) green hill. I hadn't seen that place in years either. We even went by the apple orchard where Ian, FIfe & I once sat & had ice cream, & the farm's black cat just jumped into the car & shared some of the ice cream with us. (I have those pictures somewhere, too. I've got to try to remember to find them!)
Fife ended up showing me a little store that specialized in meats from a local family. I ended up buying a 6 pack of Angry Orchard Rose, which I've never heard of before & was entirely new to me. Heh, it also makes me think of Dragon Ball Super, with Super Saiyan Rose. We then drove back up that way & back into Loudon before heading to Starbucks for coffee.
Jean met up with us there before returning back to the house. They had an appointment to go to, so I took the time to go see my parents for a short while. Once I was done there, I met back up with them to go eat at Moritomo's. Hibachi was booked due to large parties, so we ate at a table & ordered from the regular menu. I had beef teriyaki, which I had not eaten there in years & years. It was good. Fife also shared some of his tuna rolls with me, & this was all accompanied by a wonderful-tasting Zombie.
I got back home a little while ago, & it was starting to snow just before I got home. What a rather fitting end to the day, as the snow always seems to come in at the tail end of a tragedy. It was a very tough today. Very weird. So many memories. Lots of tears, though I think I'll have more on my end. It still hasn't really sunk in that Jack is gone. It starts to, & I think my brain is going "No, don't think about it. It didn't happen." Just a lot to think about. So much so, I was having a hard time focusing on driving home because I was so lost in thought.
That about sums up my day.
Again, rest in peace, Jack. :(
Also, I chose this song to listen to because it played in Stranger Things in the funeral scene for Will Byers. I listened to it earlier, thinking of the fact I was about to attend a funeral. When I was waiting in line to enter the church, it was playing over & over in my head. :\