“I wish I could have seen Strider again, Grandpa.” The precocious five year old stands in front of me with a pensive look on his face. His mom, like her mother and father before her, wants her children to face the truth, so he has not been lied to. Our family dog was his friend, the beneficiary of frequent trips to the treat bag by this youngster, and also an eager participant in numerous games of fetch with the child. I remind my grandson that we just won’t be able to see Strider again and he is satisfied. I am not.
It was not my intention to broach the subject again, but as often happens, other events have brought the conversation to mind once more. I told a friend a couple of nights ago, that I was done with the “dark” subjects that have been the focus of my writing on numerous occasions, and seemingly more frequent of late. I have attempted to move to lighter subjects and still intend to keep my daily rumination moving in that general direction. Just not tonight.
Friday afternoon found the music store a beehive of activity. It seemed that the floodgates had opened and customers were almost compelled to pile into the place. In the middle of that flurry of busy-ness, he came in. The young man was a frequent visitor for the last number of years, usually just coming in to check out the stock and see what was new. If he found something that caught his fancy, we would start a conversation; first about the “real” price of the item, then about the possibility of making a trade. If I was lucky, he would find time during his visit to sit and play a guitar for a little while. For his age, the boy was one of the best guitarists I have seen, employing some advanced techniques which many seasoned players would love to master. He didn’t have them all mastered, but he was well on his way. This was one of our lucky days and he sat and played a few moments as he waited for me, drawing the attention of others in the store, as he always did.
I had just traded for some items he wanted, which he brought over to me when I got a free minute. He had no money to spend, but there were other items he could bring in to trade. He asked me to hold the ones he wanted and promised to return soon with his trades, which he did within a short time. We talked about business and almost nothing else. Our transaction concluded, we shook hands and he promised to come back. He never will.
I got word on Saturday night that yet another family had lost their son. I don’t know all the details of his death, but I do know that he was far too young. I wasn’t finished with our friendship yet. There were things I would like to say to him. Like my grandson and the dog, I wish I could have seen him one more time. If only I had known it would be our last time, I would talk about something else besides the power rating of the amplifier and the battery life of the microphone. God’s timing is perfect, but mine definitely is not.
As I write this, Memorial Day is upon us. It’s a day for remembering and honoring those who have gone to their reward. We mostly think about it in terms of the military men and women, but many families use it to remember those absent from their number, whether military or not. From where I’m standing tonight, it seems a good day to think also about the living and to consider what we want our conversations to be with them. That next visit may never come; the opportunity to say those words in our hearts may never present itself again. Just a suggestion from a saddened and not-so-very-wise man, but today would be a great day to say the important words and to show the people you love that you do (love them, that is).
Then again, maybe that should be every day. Carpe Diem.
“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
(Stephen Grellet~French Quaker missionary to the United States~1773-1855)
“Be very careful then how you live, not as unwise – but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”