As legendary NFL Hall of Famer Mike Singletary inspired our room full of proud high school parents and athletes at the Fall sports banquet, the text came in – one of our own was just killed. Inspiration turned to utter shock and confusion.
Steve suffered a heart aneurysm and died in a car accident while driving to pick up his son, my son’s classmate, friend, and a talented young man we just honored during the festivities. This news seemed unreal. All who knew Steve greeted a beast of a man, healthy, cross-fit strong, and always a sturdy presence.
We all face death, but dang, this just appeared unfathomable. So sudden…so young…so different than when my 95-year-old Grandmother passed on to heaven.
Just days ago, my Step-Father received the notice his body is decomposing faster than the rest of ours. Stage 4 cancer has moved through his spine and shoulders. Mike probably has months, perhaps a year if he is lucky.
I’m angry. I’m sad. He is the steady, supportive, private man my mom needs. With this revelation, incredible change looms on the horizon.
Ironically, Mike is the one who told me life handed me a box of lemons (see my first blog entry, Lemons or Chocolates).
Before hearing this news, my Mom said, ‘all my friends are dying’. Seems all she did was say ‘goodbye’.
This is difficult. It’s more loss.
About a year ago, an NFL agent and friend of mine and his staff suffered through the death of one of their athletes to suicide. Adrian was 25 and had a one-year-old daughter when he decided life was not worth living anymore. He played on several different NFL teams for two seasons after being a standout at Temple.
Why did he make that choice? Perhaps a blog for another time.
Months have pass and I still think about Adrian and his great smile. I wonder how his daughter Avery Marie and his family are doing. That precious girl will never know her Dad or what he thought about playing America’s greatest game. She won’t know what it’s like to hold his big secure hand. A trust fund was set up to help her. Please donate.
Perhaps now the cliché ‘life is short’ carries a more powerful meaning for my mom. It certain does for me and the kids as we contemplate life without Grandpa Mike. It does for Steve’s wife and his three young children and Adrian’s daughter and family. Their dynamics changed in an instant.
Immediate change and death often beg the question of those of us still here, Am I living? Have I accomplished and experienced all that I desire? Do I know and live out my purpose each day? Do I matter to anyone? Do I love well or with only half my heart?
I guess I ask because at the end of this life, no one wishes they were at the office five more minutes. Well, maybe Steve Jobs did? I just watched that movie last night with my two teenagers. Depressing movie but the brilliance of Aaron Sorkin made it worth the watch.
Steve Wozniak was right when he told Jobs he could be both brilliant and nice. Jobs’ heart appeared lost and defined by what he created, orchestrated, and provided. We all know several people in those same shoes. That life equates to a lonely existence separated from meaningful connection and true impact. You think Jobs was ‘perfectly lonely’?
Death as a way of sparking life and a creating a willingness to say what the heart wants but the mind negates and says ‘don’t say that to him/her.’ Don’t wait. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
I know you’ve heard that advice before from others who have faced death or experienced heavy loss. If you have to, consider the worst case scenario in connecting, being nice and loving to someone.
What do you lose telling someone what they mean to you? What do you actually face when you explain all the cherished moments you’ve had with him/her and you want more? Let me guess…Discomfort? Embarrassment? Rejection? Or in my case when I recently reached out to a loved one, I got silence in return.
If you receive any of the above or you get silence, so what? Death is permanent. None of those are forever. At least they now know how you think and feel about them and the difference her or she made in your life. Priceless love this side of glory.
Hmmm…maybe we should do living funerals?
Time to chill to some John Mayer, Battle Studies.