Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 174

A brief introduction:

My name is Paul Howley. Some people have called me the "luckiest man in the comic book business." But that all changed as of January 9th 2001.

The current cast of characters:

Paul Howley: age 46
Mal Howley: age 46
Adam Howley: my son, age 21
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 16

“The Memorial Service for Adam Dean Howley”

We opened up the memorial service for anyone to share their thoughts about Adam and several of his long-time friends and co-workers came up to speak.

James Gray recalled that he always enjoyed playing with Adam when they were kids. One day when James went to Lexington Christian Academy he was bullied by an older student and Adam stuck up for him. Adam’s love of other people inspired James to work with young people. A co-worker from “Friendly’s” explained that Adam was not only a good worker, but a good friend. Even though Adam was very busy getting ready to leave for college, he took the time to go to the assistant manager’s home to try to help her fix her computer. She appreciated his unselfishness. Adam’s friend Phil Doreau (wearing the bright blue satin suit that matched the purple suit that he and Adam wore to their high school prom) told a funny story about hiding in the basement of our Massachusetts home for two days without us even knowing he was there. Adam snuck pork chops and other food down to him by hiding the food in his pockets!

I don’t remember if any other friends or family got up to speak, but after a few minutes went by, a young 17-year old girl from Rhode Island slowly walked to the front of the room. She wore brightly colored clothes and her hair was dyed a bright purple. She explained that her father had died when she was only 15. For the next two years she wore all black clothes and her hair had been dyed black. Then she met Adam. Adam’s love of people and his love of life brought “colors” back to her life.

Another Rhode Island boy, who spoke with a heavy speech impediment, explained that almost everyone made fun of him and many people thought he was mentally retarded. But things changed when he met Adam. Adam wouldn’t allow anyone to tease him anymore. His life was better because of Adam.

One of Adam’s favorite Rhode Island friends, Victor, explained that he used to be a violent kid, picking fights and releasing his rage on anyone who crossed him. Adam taught him to love and to be more patient.

I was grateful to hear that Adam had a positive effect on his friends and co-workers.

To wrap up the time of sharing, Adam’s Uncle Greg Demund and Adam’s cousin Emily came up front. Greg read a poem he wrote for the service:

“Six weeks premature Adam was born,
Bright blond hair his head did adorn.
He beat his cousin Em by just three weeks,
So the race was on, their lives to compete.
Whatever the task, or the race may be,
The two fought fiercely the winner to see.
Tricycle races were a major event,
Adam beating Emily with as fast as he went.
Report card grades were always there,
Each one comparing so as to be fair.
Adam never liked that Emily was taller,
But consoled in the fact that Cassy was smaller.
High School graduation finally did arrive,
Emily graduated first to Adam’s despise.
Two knives were used to cut their cake,
Adam cut first, this prize he did take.
Adam was a joy for all to see,
A smile on his face and wild shoes had he.
He could dance, and he would sing,
The world was his stage, always performing.
In musicals and plays he was at home,
The theatre he loved as his life has shown.
Paul and Mal watched with great delight,
As Adam performed in a play just right.
Red, yellow, green and purple hair had he,
The rainbow every week we did see.
Now through Heaven’s gate he has gone,
One last race he beat Emily on.
In the presence of the Lord he may stand,
Dance Adam dance, as only you can.
Stand at the feet of the King most high,
With your hair aglow and your hands raised high.
Sing with the angels your praises join in,
Although a Frank Sinatra tune is not a good hymn.
And when the Lord our God finally looks down,
He may truly wonder when he created a red crown.”

Emily read a section of a book titled, “A Gentle Thunder” by Max Lucado:

“Don’t let your heart be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am. (John 14:1-4)

“What kind of statement is that? Trust me with your death. When you face the tomb, don’t be troubled—trust me! You get the impression that to God the grave is a no-brainer. He speaks as casually as the mechanic who says to a worried client, “Sure, the engine needs an overhaul, but don’t worry. I can do it.” For us it’s an ordeal. For him it’s no big deal.

“The other night I did something that every parent has done dozens of times. I carried my daughter to bed. Five-year-old Sara fell asleep on the floor, and I picked her up, carried her up the stairs, and put her in bed. Why? I knew it was time for her to rest, and I knew that rest was better up there than down here.

“Doesn’t God do the same? Doesn’t he, knowing more than we, carry us to the place of rest he created? For God, death is no tragedy. In God’s economy, the termination of the body is the beginning of life.

“Can you imagine if Sara’s sisters objected to my decision to carry her upstairs? “Don’t take her. We’ll miss her. Please keep her here so we will all be together.”

“How would I answer? “Oh, but she’ll rest so much better in the room I have prepared for her. Besides, you’ll be coming up yourselves soon.”

“By calling us home, God is doing what any father would do. He is providing a better place to rest. A place he has “prepared for us.” Heaven is not mass-produced; it is tailor-made.

“Sometime ago I indulged and ordered two shirts from a tailor. I selected the cloth. The tailor measured my body. And several weeks later, I received two shirts made especially for me. There is a big difference between these two shirts and the other shirts in my closet. The tailored shirts were made with me in mind. The other shirts were made for any hundred thousand or so males my size. But not these two. They were made just for me.

“As a result, they fit! They don’t bulge. They don’t choke. They are just right. Such is the promise of heaven. It was made for us in mind. Elsewhere Jesus invites us to ‘receive the kingdom God has prepared for you since the world was made.’ (Matthew 25:34)

“The problem with this world is that it doesn’t fit. Oh, it will do for now, but it isn’t tailor-made. We were made to live with God, but on earth we live by faith. We were made to live forever, but on this earth we live but for a moment. We were made to live holy lives, but this world is stained by sin.

“This world wears like a borrowed shirt. Heaven, however, will fit like one tailor-made.

“By the way, I’ve often thought it curious how few people Jesus raised from the dead. He healed hundreds and fed thousands, but as far as we know he only raised three: the daughter of Jairus, the boy near Nain, and Lazarus. Why so few? Could it be because he knew he’d be doing them no favors? Could it be because he couldn’t get any volunteers? Could it be that once someone is in heaven, the last place they want to return to is here?

“We must trust God. We must trust not only that he does what is best but that he knows what is ahead. Ponder these words of Isaiah 57:1-2: ‘The good men perish; the godly die before their time and no one seems to care or ponder why. No one seems to realize that God is taking them away from the evil days ahead. For the godly who die shall rest in peace.’

“My, what a thought. God is taking them away from the evil days ahead. Could death be God’s grace? Could the funeral wreath be God’s safety ring? Why does an eight-year-old die of cancer? Why is a young mother taken from her children? As horrible as the grave may be, could it be God’s protection from the future? Trust in God, Jesus urges, and trust in me.”

Mal’s sister Madeline got up to introduce a special song. She said:

“About six months ago, my sister played the following song for her friend. She explained that her plan was to record this song on a cassette and tape it to Adam’s steering wheel in his car. The note attached would read: “Adam, this is to be the song we dance to at your wedding, Love, Mom”
“Although this event will not happen here on Earth, someday there will be a dance in Between Mal and Adam.” (to hear this song, please click on the link:

For those of you who are unable to click on the above link, here are the lyrics to this song:

Up To The Moon

I love you up to the moon,
And I love you big as the sky,
I love to watch you when you sleep,
I love to hold you when you cry,
One day when you’re older and
Taller than me,
I’ll say I watched you grow
Like a beautiful tree.
I love you up to the moon,
And I love you big as the sky,
You’ll always be my little man,
I love you the best that a mama can.
And one day if you rise up and
Call me blessed,
I’ll say it was a joy to give you my best.
‘Cause I love you up to the moon,
I love you big as the sky,
I love you up to the moon,
Love you up to the moon.

We closed the memorial service with an emotional song by Kathy Troccoli titled, “Goodbye For Now.”

Here are the lyrics:

Goodbye for Now

I can’t believe that you’re really gone now,
Seems like it’s all just a dream.
How can it be that the world will go on,
When something has died within me.

Leaves will turn. My heart will burn
With colors of you.
Snow will fall, But I’ll recall your warmth.
Summer wind, breathing in your memory.
I’ll miss you.

But there will be a time,
When I’ll see your face,
And I’ll hear your voice,
And there we will laugh again.
And there will come a day,
When I’ll hold you close,
No more tears to cry,
‘cause we’ll have forever,
but I’ll say goodbye for now.

I can’t imagine my life without you.
You held a place all your own.
Just knowing you were beneath the same sky,
Oh, what I joy I have known.

On rainy days, in many ways,
You’ll water my heart.
On starry nights I’ll glimpse the light,
Of your smile.
Never far from my heart,
You’ll stay with me.
So I’ll wait.

And there will be a time,
When I’ll see your face,
And I’ll hear your voice,
And there we will laugh again.
And there will come a day,
When I’ll hold you close,
No more tears to cry,
‘cause we’ll have forever,
but I’ll say goodbye for now.

Click here to hear the song:

As this song ended, Adam’s casket was carried out to a waiting vehicle, which would deliver the casket to a storage facility until the frozen ground could be opened for his burial in June. The afternoon sky was a brilliant red color as we watched the hearse drive away.