Thanks to Facebook, I learned today that a man I barely used to know, from our shared time in the same faith community, had died 12 days ago.
As I looked at the picture of his happy, smiling face, on the Memorial program (Is that the right term? Somehow it seems…lacking for something so important), I tried to remember him as a person, and I drew an emotional blank. Of course I knew his name, the mutual people we knew and the relational connections. Other than that, there was this kind of vacuum of shocked surprise and the impersonal thought of, “that’s too bad,” and “how sad for the ones who actually knew and loved him.”
I decided that I wanted to care about him, the way I think I might’ve desired when our oldest daughters loved being around each other…15 years ago. A lifetime ago, just yesterday.
Instead of intruding on the personal grief of his dear friend who’d shared the picture, because I didn’t want my sudden interest in who this man had been and why, at just a year older than me, he had died, to be experienced by his loved ones as morbid curiosity, I did a Safari search.
(Wow. What a long, convoluted sentence that was.)
I found the most courageous and personally inspiring thing I’ve experienced in such a long time; his blog.
ALS – my “Fast Pass ticket to the finish.” link here.
I clicked my way through to his first entry and read through the first few entries. As his story unfolded, I met a man of faith, courage, and peace. His writing was as humorous and ironic as it was real and raw.
Reading through the entries took maybe a minute or two. They were brief, but so full of his character and personality. I could almost hear his amused and upbeat voice describing what must’ve been a terrifying and painful period of time: how he found out that he’d been given a death sentence by his body: Lou Gherig’s Disease.
The seventh entry was only a YouTube video: Lowen & Navarro, “Learning To Fall.”
For this moment, I was able to rise above the malaise of the depression, the PTSD, the anxiety, and the apathy of hopelessness, which are my day to day realities, and FEEL. Feel inspired. Feel connected. Feel the courage, strength, hope, love, and faith of people who have been able to live fully in the face of death.
Miraculously, the internal voices which once would’ve criticized me for being a self-pitying sad sack for no good reason, were quiet. In this moment, I was given a gift of peace and hope. The unwritten note with this gift tells me that I can borrow some of this courage, strength, hope, and peace when I don’t have any of my own.
Thank you, Doug. It’s nice to meet you. My world is a better place because of you, the man I never knew.