Monday, April 25, 2016

On Losing A Friend, Part 2: Remember the Dash

     April 25th is my least favorite day. It's the day I lost a great friend very unexpectedly, and the memories it brings are very deep and dark. I decided I wouldn't talk about it this year, because I didn't think I wanted to bring up sad memories again. I've known this date was coming up, and when I found out that youth Sunday would be April 24th, and that I had a friend coming to visit on that same weekend, I was happy, because I knew I would be busy, which would keep me distracted from thinking about that upcoming day that brings back so much sadness. But after a busy Saturday where I drove my friend all over two counties, coming up with hours of fun activities, and a busy Sunday morning filled with nerves about all the public speaking I would have to do for the beach service and youth Sunday, the time eventually came for me to sit down and listen to a sermon. A sermon delivered by one of our youth that was so profound that I found myself praying that I would not cry right there in the front pew, revealing to these teenagers I secretly want to be cool around that I'm really very emotional in the most uncool way.
    Yesterday, I was reminded that the end date is not what matters. It's no coincidence that I heard this message on April 24th, one day shy of the fourth year since losing my friend. I don't want to plagiarize or steal ideas from someone else's sermon, but here's a brief explanation of what it taught me.What really matters is the dash that represents the life we lead between our birth and death. This really hit me hard, because due to the way my friend died, people tend to focus on his end date, instead of the life that dash between birth and death dates represents. 
     I'm still sad, and a part of me always will be until I see my friend again. But each year, I realize that it's getting a little bit easier to focus on the good memories that the dash contained, instead of the tragic ending that April 25th brought. So, today I'll think about the time my friend tried his hardest to help me study for a French test I was nervous about, even though he had never taken French and didn't know a word of it. I'll remember how he always gave the best hugs, and how he sometimes left English class two times a day to go buy Honey Buns from the cafeteria, even though that class was right after lunch. I'll laugh about the time he brought me orange juice in Sunday school, and didn't tell me it was expired until I had taken a sip, but assured me it was okay to drink because expired orange juice is just "extra pulpy." Today, I'll think about his dash. It was a short one, spanning only seventeen years, but it was bold. He lived his dash to the fullest, and I'll do my best to follow his example and make my dash a bold one. 
Today, I want to share one piece of advice I didn't know yet when I wrote the first post about losing a friend. When you think of your friend, try not to focus so much on their end date. Try instead to think of the way they lived their dash. If your friend was anything like mine, their dash is too bold to ever be forgotten.

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