Love, death, and life: My first time presiding over a memorial service

I didn’t know Wendy as well as most of you, but I was fortunate enough to knew her nonetheless.

She touched my life just as she touched each of yours.

Wendy Delouche was a force of nature;
A fireworks display;
A flower in bloom.

Her passion for life inspired all who crossed her path, and her vibrance and personality was larger than life.

Wendy didn’t have a storybook life.
Her world was rocked with inexplicable tragedy.
She knew better than any of us how unpredictable life is.
How things can change in an instant.
How we can’t expect answers when it comes to life and death.

She could have dwelled on her tragedy and let it turn her bitter or disillusioned.

But she didn’t.
She took that tragedy and let it fuel her to experience life to the fullest extent.

Wendy lived more in a week than most people will live for their entire lifespans. She set an example for each of us.

We are not here today to mourn her.
We can’t do that.
Wendy wouldn’t allow it.
We are here to celebrate her.
Her life.
Her passion.
Her laugh.
Her smile.
Her love.

Picture a moment you shared with Wendy.
Imagine some special snapshot of your time with her that makes you smile.
Let that resonate inside of you.

Join me in a moment of silence as we reflect on someone who was bigger than life itself. Reflect not with sadness or tears, but with a smile on your face and let us celebrate her life.

Two hundred people filled the theater in downtown Winter Garden. Her surrogate family from her years in the film industry. Her genetic family, including two children, her partner, and her mother and grandmother. Friends, teachers, students – all people she touched in her too-short life. And me, the comedian slash ordained minister slash guy who had never presided over a memorial service before.

Officiating Wendy's Memorial Service

Wendy’s death leaves a void. Her genuine love and appreciation of life and the world around her made her extremely special. As I stood in the wings, listening to each memory, story, and testimonial that was shared by those who loved her, I was struck by the impact she had, and I felt comforted to know I wasn’t alone.

Waiting in the wings

Tears flowed when recounted memories brought the reality of her death into sharp focus. Laughs echoed as foibles and past adventures were briefly relived. For almost two hours, all of us in that theater were brought together by one person.

It’s nigh impossible to walk away without having a renewed appreciation for life and a desire to honor her memory. Love life, love the world, love the people around you, just . . . be love. Wendy’s mantra should be yours and mine and everyone’s.

The honor of being asked to preside over her memorial service was only shadowed by my abject fear of screwing up. It’s one thing to officiate a wedding and make a happy couple smile while respecting traditions important to them. That’s nothing compared to speaking in front of a group of people who all wish they didn’t have to be there, reflecting on death and mourning someone as vibrant, as present, and as thoroughly beautiful as Wendy M. Delouche.

I wish there hadn’t been a reason for us to be in that room today. I wish this was an elaborate joke, with Ashton Kutcher waiting in the sidelines. I wish this had been a celebration of her life with her present and participating. But I’m glad that when the moment came, I was able to be there in a way that would have made her proud.

In Memoriam of Wendy M. Delouche

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