Last Sunday afternoon, our community gathered to pay tribute and say good-bye to our friend, Sean McCabe. The gray, drizzly weather matched my feelings as we waited quietly to enter Liberty Bell High School’s gymnasium, packed with family and friends. His wife, Laura, who bravely and eloquently spoke, said that Sean would have been embarrassed by how many people were there to celebrate his life. We all knew better.
Sean had the uncanny ability to make you feel like you were the most important person when he was talking to you. That was his philosophy of teaching and living–making each student or person feel important, building them up, encouraging them. I think everyone who knew Sean felt close to him.
When we heard last May that Sean had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of thyroid cancer, we could hardly believe this was true. Sean would have turned 47 on November 14, the day before his service. He loved hiking, climbing, and skiing and was the picture of health and fitness.
Many of Sean’s brothers and sisters in Christ gathered for a prayer service in late May to pray for Sean and his family. I remember sitting behind Sean and Laura, and resting my hand on Sean’s shoulder while we prayed. Sean prayed that he might have courage to go through this illness with dignity and strength, but most of all to bring glory to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, no matter what happened.
And that is exactly what happened. Though it’s hard to understand and accept Sean’s death, being at his service, gave a glimpse into the impact his life has had on others, even far beyond our small community.
A student sang a song he’d written for Sean, that he was in good hands, God’s good hands. Friends who skied, hiked and climbed with Sean, told about his influence on their lives. Several young men, former students whose words echoed Sean McCabe’s philosophy of loving and helping others, also talked about their friendship with this humble man.
We sang Sean’s favorite songs and hymns of praise and hope, and his pastor preached the message that was central to Sean’s life: Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. A friend read Sean’s CaringBridge journal entry from July (I wrote a blog, Sean’s Request, about this) an amazing communication from Sean to the people he loved.
Everyone stood and applauded a life well-lived as friends carried the pine casket, lovingly crafted by a close friend, for the final journey to Sullivan Cemetery.
Sleet stung my cheeks as we walked to our car. Randy and I both commented that surely there would need to be someone directing traffic. But that wasn’t the case. Traffic flowed in perfect sync, one line of cars yielding to the other, as if someone were there to make sure traffic moved flawlessly. Really, it was simply people giving thought to Sean’s passion of thoughtful and caring living.
Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of knowing Sean. He ran the race, he finished the course. Well done, good and faithful servant!