I remember this feeling. It’s surreal. An unacceptable nauseous reality that seems to fall from the clear blue sky. Despite the fact that we know and accept that death is an inescapable event of life there is a gross violation of unwritten law when the good die young.
It happened when I lost my childhood friend to AIDS in 1997. It happened 2010 when I learned of Ronnie’s accident, and it happened again this Monday night when the news spread that Paul succumbed to his life long fight.
I won’t profess to know Paul well; most of my interactions with him were social and involved quick-witted gabs about fraternal affiliations. We’d laugh and go our separate ways. I never saw him sweat, ever; and though my miniscule surface view of a life filled with so much more than the comings and goings of undergraduate college life can’t begin to serve due justice or honor a life cut short, it has resonated with me throughout the week.
Managing the collateral damage of death is difficult and complex. The ones who hurt the most tend to be the very same whose strength is necessary for the welfare of others, the list of questions highly outnumber the pool of answers, and in the midst of the confusion and sadness we miss our friend. Time should stop, but it doesn’t. Memories bring joy and pain. I stood in lobby of my gym stuck, unsure what to do next in the revelation that life ends too soon.
I didn’t plan to write this week but the news of Paul’s death has stuck with me all week. I can’t help but consider what I’m doing with my life, with my effort and with my time. I trust God and I know that His plan is perfect even when it hurts, and I don’t believe in forecasting what the deceased would say or think but I can’t help believing that given the events of this week…Paul would make better use of my life, of my time than I.
All of this to say, rather than intoxicating our sorrows or limiting our efforts to ink stenciled memorials let’s honor Paul with our time. There are no words to sedate the shock and awe of death, but all too often I find myself on the couch, in the bed, or out doing nothing…accomplishing nothing. 10,080 minutes go by in a week and too often I leave them unfulfilled. I can’t help but think that Frankie, that Ron, that Paul know the true value and would maximize on the most valuable comity too many of us take for granted. Time. So I will work, I will grow, I will love and I will fill those moments of laziness, distain and self-pity with life in memory of Paul.
God bless the mourning hearts from Ohio to New Jersey and beyond. May your memories bring you joy in a time of incomprehensible grief. I leave you with this anecdote and the frequent words of my mentor:
“Imagine there is a bank account that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course? Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to a good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no over draft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no drawing against “tomorrow.” You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success! The clock is running!! Make the most of today.”
I hope you live before you die.