Over the last couple of weeks I had a situation come up where I felt God calling me to share some things about my life that I haven’t thought about in a long time. I spent quite a bit of time thinking, remembering, and writing out what I would talk about… and it was hard.
As I was sifting through memories of bad decisions and experiences, I thought about people I spent time with and wondered how they might have turned out over the subsequent years. I considered how much my life has changed over the last 10, 15, 20 years and imagined… and hoped… that theirs had too.
I thought mostly about my friend Nick.
I met Nick my freshman year of high school when he was dating a friend of mine. They broke up but he and I stayed friends, going out on weekends and drinking and partying with friends. He was a couple of years ahead of me but we stayed friends when he went off to college out of state, going out and partying when he’d come into town on breaks. We stayed friends through getting married, having kids, getting jobs…. growing up! He was a troublemaker who always had a smile on his face and plan for a good time.
Some of my favorite memories involve Nick and some kind of ridiculous hijinks instigated by him over the course of our 20+ year friendship. I could tell him anything and know that I’d get the truth, without judgment (but possibly some teasing).
A few years ago, Nick got divorced and his life changed quite a bit. His wife and I never got along very well I’m afraid, but the divorce cut his free spirit free of any and all tethers to a stable life and Nick lost his footing. His drinking and partying, which had abated during the family years, stepped back up and he hooked back up with some old friends from past days. I was concerned, but I didn’t push the issue… he was Nick, and he was invincible. While I had moved on from that lifestyle, I wasn’t going to judge him for it. Then he moved in with a girl and saw his sons less and less, and I grew even more worried. The time between our visits grew longer, but he was still there for me.
And then he wasn’t. Almost 2 years ago he suddenly had a massive stroke one day at work and died instantly at 39 years old.
Now I wonder, did he regret the choices he was making? Did his choices lead to what happened? Was he happy?
The obvious message here is to treasure the people in our lives because they can be gone at any time. And that’s true. But something we were talking about in our class at church this morning was that we could be gone at any moment and that we should live as though that were the case.
“You don’t really know about tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears only for a short while before it vanishes.” James 4:14
I miss my friend. A lot. But he reminds me that I could be gone in an instant, and that I need to take care that I live my life intentionally and leave a legacy of love.