I saw the news this morning that after 50 long days, you’d been released from the hospital. A smile and a “Yay!” crossed my lips until I read the word “hospice”. And you’ve filled my thoughts every minute since.
Alternating between tears and a hope that says nothing’s over until God says so, I’ve spent a lot of time today wondering how to reach out to you and what to say. Words came so easy for us in high school, didn’t they? They’re failing me now, friend.
Thank you for befriending me. A new boarding school in the Texas hill country, far away from family, was a lot to navigate and you made it easier. Sitting on the sidewalk, leaning against the side of the building and talking away the afternoon with you is one of my favorite memories of my time there. The stories about your firefighting family and your ambition to join them fascinated me to no end. You were so sure of yourself then and it gave me courage to believe more in myself and my own goals.
I’m so proud that you followed your heart and made your dreams happen.
Watching and cheering loudly as you played football under those Friday night lights was so much fun. I still remember, though, the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that one time you got hit (do you remember?), staying down on the field for what seemed like a lifetime. I remember holding hands with a friend, the two of us praying for you to stand up and shake it off.
I’m still praying that prayer, Mike.
You were all brawn and gruff and tough stuff and faced everything square on with a determined optimism. And yet you were also a marshmallow and a total softy and judging by what you’ve been posting on Facebook all these years about your beloved wife and children, that hasn’t changed either. You love them well, friend, and you are deeply loved by them.
Though our time together was brief, the legacy of your kindness, caring, laughter, tenacity, and strength has continued. I’ve valued being able to glimpse your life from the outskirts of social media, cheering still for you in your triumphs, career accomplishments, and personal challenges. You’ve been a fighter, Mike, and oh, so brave.
It appears that our season of friendship in this life will be over sooner than I would have liked but I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to say what needed to be said and I take comfort that your love for Jesus and your steadfast trust in Him means that when the goodbye comes, it will be temporary.
You are loved, you are prayed for, you are cherished. Thank you for being my friend.