XXXI: Cheers Old Friend


I’ll be the first to admit that death really isn’t my thing. I’m the person who has the horrible reaction, awful timing, and is frequently thinking about what food will be served after the service has concluded.

Horrible human, right?

Death is just that; it’s death. Personally it’s merely a gateway from this fragment of life into something eternal. Therefore, it isn’t the easiest thing to accept, fret, or even try to stir emotions over.

Again, horrible human, right?

While sitting with friends this afternoon, enjoying lunch with colleagues of our house church, I received a notification on Facebook. The obituary for an old friend. I’ll confess; it stirred my emotions over the time of our existence, friendship, and overall presence in unison on the earth.

Make no mistake, the man was 54 years old. However, some of my fondest memories growing up included him. He was the leader of the association that my church, and several other community churches, belonged to. He spearheaded youth mission trips, youth camps, and projects for…well…youth.

Over the years of middle school and high school I connected with him. While he was the overall leader of all of our adventures; he was still human, friendly, and overall kind. He gave me chances, embraced my odd humor, and never avoided a conversation. We traveled to southern Missouri and Colorado a few times on trips involving over fifty teenagers on a ‘mission from God’ while also trying to find ‘the right one’ on the trip (some of you get my reference). He led the camp that I attended a few times as a camper, and a few times as a leader. He was one of the first spiritual role models (not the only) that encouraged me to lead my groups, to lead the people, and to embrace a passion for missions, for Christ, and to be comfortable with my own odd self.

Similar to my college professors, and even the administration I work under now at school, he embraced my opportunities to explore, try new ideas, and see what worked…and what didn’t. I wasn’t met with criticism, but with praise and encouragement. Necessities that I noted heading into my own classroom with my own students.

Through the miles of my own running experience this afternoon, I charted out the memories, the experiences, and the joy that I shared with this man of God. Nearly three decades into my own existence and only now am I beginning to feel sorrow knowing that once someone has died; they’re not on the other end of the phone, they’re not in their office, and they won’t be expecting me to make cotton candy or a sno-cone at the next faith driven block party.

All the theology of my world, the understanding of life, death, and next points in moving forward; even holding all that knowledge, that truth, turns out to nothing for an aching soul.

Tonight I finally feel human.

Tonight I’ve finally felt loss.

Someone who helped craft me into the Christian I am today; they’re gone. They’re just gone. I don’t even know if he would be proud of me; mistakes and all. We were closest before I absolutely wrecked my life in 2011.

My heart hurts. It’s just an overwhelming sensation of emotion completely pulverizing every ounce of psyche. Allow me to be clear; 2015, right now, is the first time in my entire life I’ve cried, knowing someone was dead. My friend from high school. My high school sweetheart. My debate partner. I was sad, but I didn’t cry. A man, someone I respected, is gone from this earth and my world is shattered.

I feel dumb. Immature. Childish. The logically perspective of my mind is embarrassed at the state that I’m currently in. I hate feeling human. I hate feeling vulnerable. I hate knowing that I can’t get something back that’s been taken.

So, even though I’m sure he never touched a single drop of alcohol. Tonight. I’ve poured a pint…like a good Baptist…

Cheers Clyde. I’ll see you later.

-D-

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