It wasn't empty words, mined from people's discomfort at pervasive - visible - sadness.
He was a great, great human being. Big hearted and considerate, full of concern for all he met, quick
to laugh and just as often, quick to bellow, embracing and utterly authentic.
And impossibly, it seemed that even on this day he had as much to teach us. There in the last of his goodbyes, this expansive, generous, gregarious man who many were proud to say rather incredulously and often incongruously to others "he was my biology teacher", shared his "Secrets to Life".
By singing - from that room beyond and unknown, whose door was firmly shut to us - James Taylor's the 'Secret of Life'.
He sang at his own funeral. And the dark humour was lost on none of us. That September funeral stays with me. A familiar church, memories of Christmas solos and readings, waves of nostalgia flood ceaseless over me.
I vowed there in that moment to try not to try too hard. It's all too fleeting and if we spend to long looking in we miss the wonder of out there.