Getting Back Up

This week has been a kick in the face a little bit. I found out that a friend, the kind of friend you hang out with every few years and it feels like no time at all has passed, died in July 2020. The revelation brings on all kinds of emotions.

I am pissed at myself that I hadn’t checked in since last February. I am sad that I didn’t know how close the end was. Mostly I am just sorrowful for his wife and kids.

I can clearly remember the day he told me he had leukemia. I met him at Peet’s coffee after not talking to him for a bit. He responded to a text message I had sent two months prior with “Hey, have time for a coffee?”

It wasn’t odd for one of us to send a text message and then the other dude to respond a month later. We were busy suburban fathers with demanding jobs in Silicon Valley. But we would always end up hooking up with a couple of guitars and making music together. Or going for a hike and talking about family and faith, or any number of topics.

It was odd for us to meet up for coffee but I was just happy to see him. He had lost a lot of weight and I complimented him and he smirked and said “I have been on a special diet.” When he told me we both cried right there in public. So manly. We gave each other a ration of crap for it.

He beat leukemia for a while, I had no idea he was sick again. He hadn’t responded to my text messages for a while. I just randomly searched his name last night after someone else responded to my last text message with a “You have a wrong number.” I found an obituary and I didn’t believe it. My wife found a go fund me for his family when she searched his name last night. It was real, my stomach sank.

I spent the morning walking and listening to songs he and I had worked on together.

I was thinking and walking and here is what I came to:

It is easy to say that life is not about how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get back up. What is harder is to admit that the bravest people are those that understand a part of them was left on the floor when they got back up, but they keep moving anyway.

We can waste a lot of time trying to find a fix when we weren’t ever really broken in a way that mattered anyway. Those cracks left by getting knocked down are our only path back to what we left on the ground when we fell. We know we can never get it back, but the light can shine through those cracks and remind us that it was worth it.

I will always miss you Jon. Thanks for being my friend.

At One Ment

St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Washington DC

I started writing this as I was watching a new President attend Mass at a church where I once attended Mass. In what seems an odd twist, the new President was attending Mass with members of the two big political parties in our country. This just after watching the outgoing President give a speech that was divorced from reality and knowing that the one leaving more of my fellow Catholics voted for. I have tried to understand why.

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