It has been 10 years since my best friend of most of the first half of my life died. It has been over 6 years since I married the person he married and began to help raise his children. I miss Mike in many ways. He was a lot of fun, and if was still around I’m sure that we would still be having a lot of fun. In some ways it is kind of a difficult thing to think about as I have no idea how my life would have turned out if things didn’t happen the way they did.
I was at bible school when Mike died. I received a call from an old friend informing me that Mike had died suddenly. After about 10 minutes of processing the shock I jumped in the car and headed home…next door to where Mike lived. My mind rushed with thoughts of promises made long ago. The situation was subdued when I arrived. Carol and the kids were gone. I sat and chatted with my roommates. It takes a while before the reality of such major events sets in.
That night I walked across the 12 or so feet that separated my door from his and entered their lonely house. We had a key for emergencies and such. I remember sitting on the steps of the stairway experiencing a peace about the whole situation. Little did I know at the time that was the exact spot where Mike took his last few breaths. I remember fondly the times I shared with many of our mutual friends as we cherished our memories of Mike together at the viewing and the funeral. There was lot of great stuff to cherish and remember about Mike. We mourned, we grieved, and we laughed. I have to remember to have a few words with him about how heavy his casket was…just about pulled my shoulder out carrying him on a frosty winter’s day.
I had no idea how much this event would change my life. Carol and I had a on again, off again relationship. We both had baggage to work through and I’m glad we did. Eventually I got through some of my issues and asked her to marry me. As I walked through our relationship things seemed chaotic and irrational, but in retrospect the timing couldn’t have been better.
The challenge of leading this family together is hard enough all on its own. I’m glad we worked through what we had to. Life raising Mike’s kids hasn’t been easy. I’ve often joked that I’ve been reaping what I’ve sown. I used to tease Mike a lot, and it was probably poetic justice that I got to raise his oldest son. There has been incredible blessing even in that. I’m not just spouting of Christianese…for all the grief I’ve endured I am a much better man than I was 5 years ago. Fortunately it is getting easier and our worst fears for David have subsided. Matthew embodies a lot of what was so great about Mike and has many wonderful unique qualities as well. It is stunning sometimes to see both of them reflect different aspects of their father. David mutters under his breath in the exact same way Mike would, kind of like Fred Flintstone would. The boys always enjoy my stories, and I have many, about their father.
I’ve often said that when I reach eternity Mike will be the one to take me on my first tour. I’m pretty sure he would be able to muscle himself up to the front of the line. I won’t be able to avoid a big bear hug either.