I didn’t know Timothy Byron Wiles in life, and he remained a man of mystery to me in death. A Marine who had served overseas in Jamaica, Greece, Iraq, and Kuwait, he died at the age of 30 of yet-to-be determined causes, a youthful and untimely passage.
The 40 minute service at Evangel Christian Center was planned by Timothy’s parents and brothers. The program, which featured an eagle in flight and a waving American flag on the cover, had the words to the Twenty-Third Psalm on the left, and on the right, the dates of birth and “entered into rest” and the funeral service time and place. No other information was provided. A flag-draped casket at the front of the sanctuary was flanked by six flower arrangements.
Timothy was one of four boys, three of whom served in the military, and one brother, Eric, had died in the service. Youth pastor Ben Trujillo said it was often hard to tell Timothy apart from his twin brother Daniel. The pastor at Evangel Christian Center said that Timothy touched many people and was very well-loved at work, although he didn’t say where he worked. Timothy’s significant other, with whom he had a daughter, related through the pastor that he was first to jump in to help others, fill in the gap on things that needed to be done, and was an all around good person.
Several musical selections chosen by the family were played, including “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art.” A favorite song of Timothy’s was also played, “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry. The words of the refrain were appropriate:
If I die young, bury me in satin
Lay me down on a, bed of roses
Sink me in the river, at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song
The pastor read aloud the Twenty-Third Psalm and talked about the words of comfort in that psalm, and also spoke about passages from Revelation. He suggested that it’s hard to be strong by yourself in the face of sorrow, but you can receive Jesus Christ as your lord and savior and find grace and peace.
All in attendance stood as a pair of military honor guards from the Marine Corps slowly marched in, lifted and held the flag over the casket as Taps was played, then folded the flag and gave it to Timothy’s mother. Had he been married to his significant other, by protocol the flag would have been given to the wife.
At the end, the casket was opened so everyone could file by to pay their respects to the young Marine laid out in his dress uniform.
After the ceremony, his body was transported back to the funeral home to be cremated. The funeral director told me that the lovely wood casket was a rental, and that the white satin liner would be cremated with the body. Perhaps his cremated remains will be lovingly sunk into a river at dawn.
May Timothy Wiles memory be a blessing to those who knew him.