Sitting in the back row of the church, waiting for the funeral to start, was a room full of relationships. Relationships of classmates of 40 years ago, relationships of families, relationships of friends, and a relationship that could no longer be renewed, or forgiven, or formed, as the lid to the casket closed.
A funeral brings to the forefront those things we wanted to do, or wanted to say; a funeral teaches us life must be lived in the right now. Some people die too young.
Quoted from a poem at the funeral:
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief,
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me,
God wanted me now, He set me free.
Friday, June 27th, many Enid High School, graduates gathered to say their last good-byes to Byron Mitchell. The theme of Byron’s funeral was: A Life Beyond Boundaries.
As we watched the video of this extraordinary man’s life, we reminisced. Byron broke the glass ceiling repeatedly. He saw no boundaries. The courage it must have taken for him to run for class president. He would be the first black class president in the history of the school. In Jr. High, Byron had to stand up for his rights, as school officials were cross-examining how to deal with forced integration. When Byron won the election in high school, a new era had begun. Many of us remember clapping when we heard the results, and a feeling of hope for our own dreams, because Byron had given us a valuable life lesson, he showed us anything was possible, by staying persistent, and not caving into criticism and threats. If President Obama does not know the story of Byron Mitchell in the late 60s and early 70s, he should be told.
The church had a magnificent stained-glass window, which was the focal point, no matter where you sat. It appeared as if Jesus was floating in the air. The red, and white robe, Jesus was wearing, his black toes peeking out from the flowing garments, his arms outstretched, a dove flying above his head, and the brilliance of sunlight streaming through; it made it look like Jesus was telling us Byron was home.
Byron’s funeral, also taught us some life lessons, just like he had when he was so young. The sermon stressed to us to use our minds to increase ourselves. In Byron’s life, he could see opportunities to cause a change, at his funeral, we were encouraged to vote. We were reminded of the importance our votes had, just like our votes changed the course in the early 70s, when we voted for Byron.
People laughed, people cried, people embraced, just as Byron would have wanted it to be. Janet Morrison Pigman, was Byron’s friend, they were young, and experienced those childhood moments when you feel at peace with the world and free. Janet, was with Byron during his struggles with failing health. Once again, Janet was part of Byron’s life, when he was again at peace and set free. Janet has created a memorial page on Facebook, for this man who lived, A Life Beyond Boundaries.
A quote from Elnora Roosevelt was read that describes the life of Byron Mitchell:
Small minds talk about people.
Average minds talk about events.
Great minds discuss ideas.