A week ago today, one of our dearest friends was laid to rest. He became ill quite suddenly, experiencing a cardiac arrest that left him on life support. For four days, his family remained by his side, seeking counsel. They graciously allowed my husband and me to be there in his final hours.
We met a few years ago, through our daughters. Two effervescent seven-year-olds, fresh from a dance camp, bonded us together. As a single dad, our friend spent many nights just hangin' out with us. His amazing laugh can still be heard in the background of a LilBro created Y*uTube video. Hubby and Friend took the girls on an Americ*n Girl road trip last year....memories that brought smiles as his life was celebrated. And, he shared his heart with us. We didn't realize at the time, that he was entrusting his broken-ness to us. We thought he was the "king of overshare" with all of his pals! During the funeral, we became aware of the fragile gift he had given to us. I am forever changed. We didn't always see past our friend's personal concerns. Now I know that he trusted us to give him wise counsel. We did. But sometimes we rolled our eyes and lifted a brow, wishing he could see the bigger picture.
Now, he has an incredible, indescribable view. The night he died, I could not sleep. The tears fell so fast, I placed a washcloth on my pillow. I wanted so much to ask him, "Well, what happened when you left your body? Did you feel pain during the hospital stay? Who led you into the Great Beyond? Have you seen Jesus? Tell Him I love Him! Have you met Sara? Give her a kiss from mommy! Can you see your little girl from heaven? I promise to help take care of her....." I knew that if he could he would have excitedly told me the answers to my questions. The next day, tears fell upon each remembrance and I lost my breath whenever I thought of that moment when the machines stopped. The thin veil seems very, very close.
We accompanied the family to the burial, a military honor for his service in Vietnam. The flag was folded as Taps played and the world spun around me when the soldiers handed the triangle cloth to his ten-year-old princess. She will be spending a few days with us next week, which I plan to fill with security and serendipity.
Look around your space---see the ones you love, the people your life touches each day?
Hug them hard.
Say the words.