John died this week after a grueling battle with cancer and I have memories in my mind and connections to moments in my life that are so important to me that this has been a tender week--this grief is etching itself onto my emotions with a sharpness I haven't felt since my Grandpa died a few years ago. John and his wife feel like family and I am sad he is gone from this life and that she has to be without him. I feel the actual sensation of my heart breaking a little bit each time a memory passes through my mind. He and she have always made me feel like I was the awesomest thing on the planet; like I was smart, capable and something special, and this from the time I was small up to the last time I saw him as an adult. The best compliment I can give them is that I think everyone who knows them feels exactly the same way I do. It's just excellent to be near either one of them.
Images flicker past like an old-fashioned film. He picked me up when I babysat his daughter (and fed his pet tarantula) and his former-cop driving was exciting to say the least. He hired me to work in his office when we had a youth service auction at church and I remember him telling me I could grow up and do anything I wanted. At that moment I believed him and felt my life's horizons open up a little. He was present at my marriage. He was a friend to my parents. He served me and my family at church. He helped out at countless youth conferences and activities. He always had a story to tell and to this day I can't drive to Harper's Ferry without Watching for Falling Rock and smiling to myself. My children have felt that same fondness that I always felt. He always looked like he was trying not to laugh out loud and his eyes actually did twinkle as that constant, just slightly suppressed smile played around his mouth. I heard him bear earnest testimony of his faith and his belief in the Savior. I heard him complement his wife in public and express his gratitude for her.
How grateful I am for the knowledge I have that God is good and that families and friendships exist and endure far beyond this fragile time on earth. In the meantime I will enjoy thinking of all the times this lovely gentleman made me smile and made the world just a little more interesting and rich.