**Warning – this has nothing to do with Christmas and the Holiday’s and might turn out to be down right depressing. You have been warned**
There’s a Mat Kearney song that says ‘We are all just one phone call from our knees.’ If you have ever gotten a phone call like that you will understand… if not, be thankful you’ve never gotten one. Tuesday night was a horrible night. I first received yet another phone call from my best friend whose family is going through one of the hardest experiences in their life. All I can say is that the whole situation has put my life and my problems into perspective. Then later that night, I got a phone call from my Mom. It stopped me in my tracks. A man I grew up with, I’ve known him for what feels like forever, had lost his battle with cancer. He was 26. He was diagnosed in September with 2 of the rarest forms of Lung Cancer. He wasn’t a smoker. He, get this, actually completed a marathon (no I didn’t stumble, marathon) in May. This kid played soccer (same sport as me) and his family grew up around the soccer fields, as did I. I spent many summers referring with him, playing against him, just being kids together who loved a sport.
We were connected via Facebook, like almost everyone these days… and I remember a few years ago… He started to take running seriously. He would post up ‘8:30 mile not where I want to be.’ He would post about his speed workouts. He’d talk about how he was feeling. He would update quiet often about how many miles he completed and the pace he kept. To say that this didn’t inspire me to get off the couch would be a lie. If he could do it, I certainly could as well. So that began my journey with running. He was a dedicated runner, for sure. I always that it was easier for him, because his legs were twice the length of mine. He was in ridiculous shape. He was taking charge of his health. To get a call from my Mom in September telling me that he had cancer was such a shock.
Whenever I get stunning news, it always makes me reflect on my life and my choices. The past few years, I can honestly say that I’ve been living more from intention and less from habit than I ever have. I do catch myself sometimes falling back into my old habits, but I do my best to actually live my life. I’ve said ‘Yes’ to things I never would have had I not changed my mindset. The funny thing, I haven’t regretted ever saying ‘Yes,’ but I have regretted saying ‘No’ so many times. I proud of myself for this. I am truly happy with my life. I know my choices in the beginning were a little bit rocky, but at the end of the day, without those choices I would have been able to make the decisions today. I’m so lucky to live my life the way I’m living it. This is just a small reminder to live my life not only because I want to, but because so many other didn’t get the chance.
Last night as I made plans with my friend to go to the Funeral home, it hit me, that at this Funeral Home alone, I will have said good bye to three other friends at this very same location. He will be my fourth. This will be the 6th death of a friend close to my age. 6th. That number astounds me. I can remember the first funeral I went to like it was yesterday for a classmate. It was the summer between 3rd and 4th grade. I remember laying in bed and hearing my mom talking to someone saying ‘ I think Sarah knows the boy Justan that died.’ I remember laying in bed and thinking, ‘ Justan couldn’t have died. It has to be someone else. Justan is my age. Justan is my friend.’ I remember going to the funeral home and sobbing over his casket and thinking ‘This is so wrong. He’s too young. He was so nice. He was my friend.’ Looking back, I can’t imagine how that much have felt to his mother. To have this young girl fall apart while saying goodbye to her son. Tonight, will likely be a repeat of that exact same moment. When I think about the boy I will be saying goodbye too, I just remember him always smiling.. ALWAYS smiling. He was a joy. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone as carefree as him. He rarely ever didn’t have a smile on his face. He was a jokester. He enjoyed life. But, a life that was cut way to short. For the reasons, we will never know.
As I celebrate Christmas this year, I will be keeping his family in my thoughts. As I don’t even want to imagine the pain, the loss they are feeling. It’s just another reason to make me thankful for my life and the things I have been able to do, and the experiences I have been given. It solidifies my desire to truly live my life because so many will never have the opportunity to grow old. Probably the second most favorite movie quote of my life ‘This is your life and it’s ending it one minute at a time.’ Do. Not. Ever. Forget. That.
26. Full of life. This world we live in, such a crazy place. May his soul rest in peace.
Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays.
Take it easy.