Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Life Ended Too Soon

I recently went to the funeral of a 20-year-old young man -- someone I had known since he was a baby, I had babysat, I had given piggyback rides to, and had watched grow up into a really great guy. He had been killed in a car accident -- a senseless tragedy in itself, but made even worse because he was his parents' only child, was engaged to a beautiful young girl, and was himself the father of an infant son.

I've had a difficult time with it, and it's one of those times when I have felt extremely inadequate in the support I've tried to give to his family. It's always hard enough to know what to say to folks when they have suffered a loss, but it's even worse when there's a personal connection between you and the family AND the one who has been lost. I know being there meant a lot to the family, but I always feel like there's more I can do or say -- and in 36 years, I've never figured out exactly what that is.

One of the things the pastor mentioned at the funeral was the fact that this young man never left from a visit with his family without saying, "I love you." That's a lesson we should all take to heart -- when I was growing up, I used to feel really weird about saying that to folks (I guess I didn't think it was cool to say that to anyone). It's a completely different story now that I'm older; I always make a point of saying it as much as I can my wife and daughter, my parents and siblings (except for my brother, who I've never heard say it to me and who I think would be uncomfortable -- even at his age -- if I said it to him).

Saying that you love someone shouldn't even be limited to family; say it to your friends. I've done a lot of stupid and irresponsible things in my life that have aliented some people and cost me some friends, and I don't think there's anything I'd be able to do -- or should try and do -- to bring those back. I am lucky, though, that I have some friends who have accepted me despite my faults, who have stuck with me through my stupid AND non-stupid times, and who I know love me. I hope they realize I love them, too -- and I should work on saying that more.

It sounds cliche, certainly, but I think if people said, "I love you" more, this might be a happier place.


Anonymous said...

It's wonderful how every single time we open the Bible, the Spirit just opens our eyes to something new. That's one of the most amazing and fun things about studying His Word. I wish you could get into a Bible Study Fellowship group up there. You would thoroughly enjoy it.

As for your entry about saying I love you to everyone and not just family---when we were saying good-bye on the phone tonight I had an urging to say that. I say "urging" b/c I knew it was the Spirit telling me to do it but in my disobedience, I ignored Him. It took me back to a few years ago-I had a lady in my Bible study group who always said I love you as we were hanging up. It had such a profound affect on me. Since then, I find it very easy to say I love you to my Christian friends that I talk to all the time. But the sad truth is I failed to follow through tonight. It's amazing how powerful those 3 words are and how we sometimes choose to withhold them in times of need. In light of your blog this evening, I have been fully convicted of my shortcoming and apologize. Just know that you are a dear friend and I love you and you are covered in prayer through this time of loss.
Your OLD friend in Texas

Anonymous said...

I think that by you being there for the family through all this is all you were truly meant to do. No one person can really help heal anothers hurt no matter what you try. You are helping though by being there for them. And you will always be there for them so do not feel inadequate in any way. You are right in saying that it is important to tell everyone you love them everyday and one day our brother will come around. - Katie

Anonymous said...

Regardless of how uncomfortable you think you and your brother may feel if you say "I love you" to him, do it. You'll never regret it and it will come to be a normal and comfortable action.