This week, a classmate and colleague of mine passed away. I hadn’t really processed it at all and I hesitate to over exaggerate my emotions. I almost feel as though since we only had the one class…and we only talked in hallways and in passing that I do not have a right to grieve him. But the truth of the matter is, his loss took my breath away.
It, like so many losses do, made me think about the preciousness of time. How do we spend our time? If we consider it our most valuable form of currency, where are we most invested? I noticed I haven’t worn my ring since I found out. I was curious about the seemingly trivial act and thought about where my own time was at the moment. I was time-poor. Spending all of what I had and all I assumed was yet to come on dissertation family/friends and restoration, in that order. I had even daydreamed up a future relationship which suited my needs and my presumed needs of the other. It is the equivalent of spending your tax refund in your mind the December before it comes.
The cost of such forward and wishful thinking is that time is not guaranteed. It is not direct deposited into a checking account magically every morning. Every second we receive is a blessing when it comes. We like to pretend we are owed this beautifully rich life which stretches into old age, but aging is a gift not afforded to all. So, all we have is right now.
It all sounds cliché and trite. Life is short. The present is a gift. Yet, the reality of these gas station proverbs is chillingly sobering. In the movie Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium he says of death:
And then he dies. And we as those who bore witness to his life, when asked, will relate to all the wonder he offered the world and close the sentiment with “he died.” The same will eventually be done of Gary. He was a man whose spiritual story I am blessed to know pieces of. He was a man who showed concern by action. He was a friend who baked me my very first birthday cake in San Diego at a time when this place felt like anything but home. I may not remember every single word of every single conversation but I remember the feeling of care I received from him in our exchanges. By his family, friends and all who were touched by his life even in the smallest of ways, he will be missed.
My step-dad always said that funerals and other grief memorials were less about honoring the life and more for those left here feeling such overwhelming loss. He would say that our hearts break for them because they are the ones left with the empty. I tend to agree. And while I cannot give his loved ones much by the way of peace in this difficult time, I will still hold them in prayers. And for Gary, today and hopefully everyday after I can pause and live in the sacred right now in full acknowledgement that it’s all we really ever have. It is presumptuous to ever believe otherwise. A lesson I received when he died.