Yesterday was the second anniversary of your death.
The day I heard you were killed in the car accident, I went out and bought a 6-pack of beer, and drank 4 at one sitting, the most I’ve ever had at a time. I was miserable about losing a friend to some other reckless driver, and was mostly distraught because I didn’t know where you stood, spiritually.
Last year, on the first anniversary of your death, I bought a 20-oz Coke, and decided that’d be my annual tradition for you now, instead of beer. Last year was tough with my wedding only a few weeks away though. You’d have looked good in another tux.
I vaguely remember details of our last conversation. I was bugging you about money you owed me for hosting a reseller account for you, and gradually taking over some of your client list. Why I was even charging you for hosting I’ll never know, because I really wanted you to succeed in business to get yourself out of the rut I kept seeing you in. As the cliche came to life though, never do business with friends.
There were many, many good times that we shared, camping, small road trips, poker with Paul R., the goofy psuedo-military club with crazy acronyms that Rankin and the group were really into. I remember many late nights playing EverCrack and leading a guild with you. I remember collecting Coke stuff and shooting down P*psi drinkers like my brother in law Chris. I remember seeing you all spiffed up in a tux at my sister’s wedding. I remember teaching you some programming, and you helping on various web-related projects like Power of Dreams writing HTML. I remember you coming out to ‘Campus Plus’ a few times, both for social events and for at least one young adults Bible study service. I remember visiting the satellite station in Gatineau and hearing you play country songs on your guitar that were overly-Christian themed.
My most vivid memory of you was inviting you to the Billy Graham crusade that came to Ottawa the year before I moved to California. I remember that after the concert of all of the bands that played before Billy Graham spoke, and after the message, the simple invitation to accept Jesus, and your eyes that watered, and you saying you wanted to go forward but just couldn’t. I never asked why. I never pushed. I never knew why I didn’t.
You’d had some other financial problems, and you moved out to Avonmore with Glenn and Allie, to their hobby farm and adopting my cats. Working with Glenn in Gatineau, despite your schedule differences, and being employed by Glenn’s father to get that job, it was all a great position for you. I was excited to see you working a good job making decent money and gradually getting yourself on track financially.
But I still don’t know what decision you ever came to about God. I know that you believed in God, but why didn’t I try harder to see where you really stood? Why couldn’t I ask a simple question to one of my best friends? It’s not like my Christianity was major roadblock to our friendship or that you’d have disowned me as a friend if I’d taken more of a stand.
Two years after your death, I recently had a turbulent weekend, because we were in San Diego saying goodbye to Marshall and Stephanie who are moving to Ohio. That was bad enough. Having your ‘anniversary’ on the same day as their going away party, it was all I could do not to completely lose it. We went to church with them and Pastor Ed spoke about making an impact on people. How fitting.
The Bible says that by our love, people will know that we are the children of God. Kill ‘em with love, make them curious, it’ll prompt them to ask questions, and maybe they’ll be curious enough to seek answers on their own:
When I moved from one area of Ottawa to another in 1997, I ran into a high school friend from Kingston (about two hours away, she moved after grade 11) outside of a Blockbuster video. Heather and I got to chatting briefly in the parking lot. “Hey, can I ask you a question?” she asked. “In high school, you were a Christian, right?” Well yeah of course I was. “I thought so… I watched how you’d act, how you’d talk. It made a big difference. In fact, when my family moved here to Kanata, I started going to church and I became a Christian because of your example.”
That completely blew me away. Sure, we hear all the time growing up as good little church boys and girls that people watch us, more to judge us and wait for us to slip up, so we’d better be perfect little church boys and girls. Nobody ever prepared me for the overwhelming humbling sense of ‘holy CRAP’ I’d feel standing in the parking lot of a Blockbuster Video being told that my example alone had led someone to Christ.
There was no question though that you knew I was a Christian. I lived the best example I knew how for you to witness, and you saw that as a Christian that I’m human just like you were. You saw me make mistakes, you saw me at my very worst, you saw me be around other Christians, and hopefully you saw that I was no different in character between being in church and being out in the real world. Was that enough for you, though, like it was for Heather?
I can only hope that Glenn and Allie had an impact on you while you lived at their place.
I can only hope that the Billy Graham crusade left a lasting impression on you.
I can only hope I’ll see you in Heaven some day.
Rest in peace buddy. I’ll sip a Coke for you every August 27th.