Pretty perky, huh? You might have thought I would write about our recent vacation. Instead I am thinking of a dear friend we laid to rest today at 41. He had some medical challenges and he went in for surgery on Wednesday, supposed to be routine and a start to his healing. Something happened while he was in his room recovering and he died Wednesday night. I had just talked with him.
Everyone who knew him takes comfort in his strong faith. He truly had strong faith. I am of the secular Buddhist persuasion and he was a southern Baptist. We did not share a similar faith, but I could admire his faith and he never judged me for mine or lack thereof. He was possibly one of the kindest and most compassionate people I knew and that was echoed in the outpouring of memorials on Facebook and throughout the Water Industry in Georgia. Duane did not know that Wednesday would be his last day here, but the way he led his life, the impact he left behind; it feels right and complete. I don’t mean at 41 anyone has or should be considered to have lived a long enough life. Duane lived a life full of the important things. There is sorrow, and a sort of disbelief that none of us will benefit from his counsel or his laughter, but there is not a sense of regret. No one could say “Duane was going to give back, spend time with friends and family, after he retired.” Duane was living in the here and now, fully present for those who knew and loved him. It made me think what if that happened to me? Am I living like Duane?
Do I spend too much time projecting into the future or analyzing the past. When I could spend a few more minutes cuddling my husband and cats in bed; do I always have to bolt out to start the to do list? Could I be more engaged when my mom tells me the same story for the 10th time? Do I have to interrupt and say yes you told me that. The truth is, sooner rather than later she won’t be here to tell it at all. I could take that extra moment to be kinder and more patient. I could see that maybe someone is hurting and put aside the project at hand just to listen. My pursuit to slow down, be more present, be more compassionate continues. Life provides guides and opportunities. Duane was at first a guide, a truly compassionate, non-judgmental person. Now he has given me an opportunity to recognize where I can grow and improve. No one is promised tomorrow so we better start today. Rest in Peace, my friend. You are gone but the lessons you left live on.