Catching up on unread email after returning from an out-of-town lecture, my eyes quickly noted the name of a good friend. Anxious to hear from him, I opened the email only to find that it was the notice of his obituary sent to me by his wife. Having just seen him less than three months ago, I was absolutely stunned!
It was my privilege to attend his funeral service today, as it was not only a last chance for me to say “good-bye,” but also to speak comfort to his widow. The service was just like my dear friend: classy and professional, with just the right balance of humor and reverence, music and prayer, celebration and sorrow.
Reflecting on our last office visit together, I remember seeing my good friend uncharacteristically sitting outside the glass door of the office on one of the sofas in our second floor lobby long after his appointment. I took him a bottle of water, and stepped out to see if he needed a ride, was waiting for his wife, or if he needed any help.
He surprised me by saying that he was “taken aback” by the beauty of the turning leaves of our office park’s maples, and that the late October afternoon sun had (indeed) brightly illuminated the beautiful (Steffan Thomas) artwork that brings color and class to our open two-story lobby. He said that he just wanted to “sit there,” and “take it all in,” for we often miss the beauty which surrounds us as we rush through life to meet our responsibilities each day.
We sat together for several minutes in complete silence, absorbed by the brilliant hues of red just outside the glass, the slanted shafts of light, and our thoughts. Before returning to work, I hugged my good friend, and wished him well. As I glanced at him through the closing office door, he was still sitting there, looking very much at peace.
Saying good-bye today reminded me of how fleeting life can be, and of the importance of always valuing our relationships with others. My dear friend lived a great and full life, his loving eulogies a warm afterglow, safe within my heart.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow just a mystery,
but today is a gift, that’s why we call it the ‘present’.”