A friend died today.
He and I were the same age, we’ve been friends since we were fourteen. When he got married less than a year ago, I was a bit disappointed, I’d always had a crush. But he had a beautiful new wife and baby, and as far as I know, he was happy, and I was happy for him. And then there was an accident.
My mom called me this morning to tell me the news.
We sat on the phone in silence — the silence of shock, the silence of grief, the silence of loving our dear friend, and his mom, and his wife, and his child, who will never know what a fantastic father he had…except for the regular retelling of it and hopefully, a cellular memory.
After we got off the phone, I asked the invisible space where my friend now abides, “Why now? Why did you let go?”
I saw his bright blond hair and shining blue eyes. I saw the light in his face and his joyful prankster grin. I heard him whisper-speak with all his usual enthusiasm:
“This life is so short! Don’t waste it. Don’t! You know who you are. You know what you’re here to do. Focus. Align. Go. Fall in love as much as you can, as fast as you can, as often as you’re able. We thought we were young. We’re not. We thought we had all the time in the world. We don’t. You can do this. I believe in you!”
And then I thought, tears bursting forth, “How. Freaking. Generous.” To do this in order to send this message. I imagine for each person who loved him, there is some message his death will impart, some gift. I don’t doubt for a second this could be very hard on his family, and yet on one level it feels to me like The Ultimate Generosity.
I mean really, what more could he give than this?
Then I thought of Jesus (metaphoric or real, but what’s the difference?) It’s said that he died for our sins. I’ve never really known what that meant. I read once that “sin” means to “miss the mark.” It was not intended to imply a moral mistake, but a mistake of accuracy. When we “sin” we’re simply missing the mark of what would make us truly happy.
This morning, connecting with my newly invisible friend, I understood this idea for the first time: “Jesus died for our sins.” This doesn’t mean he died to take our sins away from us, or to free us from them, but to show them to us, to give us clarity on wherewe are missing the mark so we can DO something about it. So we can stop missing, if we want to. He died for [us to see] our sins.”
“Focus. Align. Love. Go.” That was my friend’s message for me today. Death was his way of showing me where and how I am missing the mark, not with judgement, but with invitation.
“Focus. Align. Love. Go. You can do this. And no matter what, I’m ok. You’re ok. It’s all going to be OK.”