Tomorrow I am attending the memorial and celebration of life for a dear mentor and friend, my counselor of almost five years. I’m collecting my thoughts and memories, trying to distill them into something concise and meaningful (in case I feel like sharing.) In doing so, I read through (and saved) our last online conversation, from last July. I asked him to read an essay I’d just finished—the most deeply personal thing I’ve written, to date. I did this, in the secret hope that he’d shred the piece, as he was an experienced writer with many published pieces. This would allow and justify my never showing it to anyone else, ever, despite my feeling very strongly—a nudge from God, clearly—that I should share it.
Boy, did that backfire.
He read it while we were sitting in chat. (Terrifying.) He made one (positive) remark, then went silent for possibly the longest minute in human history. And then he told me he liked it. He had no edits. It was “good just as it is.” (Uh… what?)
He talked about the imagery I used. He suggested I start a group blog, an online community, a ministry of sorts, for others with similar experiences. He offered to advise. He offered to serve as an editor. He encouraged me, thought the idea would be successful.
I thanked him, sincerely. And then I did nothing about it.
Oh, I thought about his advice. I stumbled into a series of months that were incredibly challenging and stressful, and I didn’t feel I had time to pursue it. I couldn’t decide where to publish. I couldn’t find the right site name, the right domain. I was too busy with work. I had more immediate concerns. I meant to get back to it, any day now. Annnnnnnyyyyyyy day now….
And then, out of nowhere, on January 2nd, he passed away.
I, like many others, was blindsided by this. He leaves behind his wife of 33 years (also a dear friend), and three sons, two still in high school. He was a much beloved pastor of the first church I went to, and the congregation continues to grieve. He was only 56. He was the wisest man I know. And he was present, since day one, for my entire Christian walk. Until ten days ago.
For days I’ve been drifting through regrets. I wish I’d published that essay, months ago, like I meant to. I wish I’d talked to him recently, if only to hear his enthusiastic opinions on all the latest movies we both like. I wish I’d asked him what he thought of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I’ve wished that probably 100 times. (So trivial and stupid, but why on earth didn’t I ask him? Because I was “busy”?)
And if I do mention any of this tomorrow, to anyone, I will close by saying what I’m about to tell you: whatever you’re not doing, do it. You know not the hour when that opportunity will expire. Tell your loved ones you love them. Have that long phone call, or that coffee date with a friend. Make the time. Don’t wait. Don’t procrastinate.
You may not get another chance.