I passed your favorite cigar shop today and it took me back to the day we sat outside of its store front, watching the rain and laughing and dreaming of the days to come. You sat across from me with your cigar between your fingers and that wise look on your face. I was going through a rough time, sorting through a messy break up. But you had the right words for me, like you always did whether I liked it or not.

That day, I was struck by how much you’d changed over the years I had known you. No longer were you the goofy boy who stood behind me on stage… Suddenly you were a young man sitting across from me, smoking a cigar. Your goofiness had not changed, but you were certainly no longer just a boy. We talked about the “old days” and wondered aloud at where life would take us. We joked about you being the weird guy that my kids for some reason called “uncle Greg” some day. We talked about friends getting married and our dream jobs and places we’d certainly go once we had the chance. I stressed about the future. You did not. I certainly didn’t think life would take us where it did.

It’s been three weeks since the accident and as I left the movie theater, I was hit by that familiar smell of cigars. It took me back to the days we’d go to Columbus so you could buy your cigars. It took me back to the drives in your car, which forever smelled like your favorite cigars. I wasn’t always a fan of how they smelled at first, but it grew on me. 

If we’re being honest, it still doesn’t feel real. I feel like I could text you about Star Wars right now. I feel like we could meet up and get our favorite pizza tonirrow. I feel like I could call you and ask you for advice. And yet this vacancy feels more real than ever. I feel this hole in my heart that can only be caused by your absence. If we’re being honest, I feel a little lost without you. Your strength and character was something I always admired. And you were always honest and truthful, and blunt. Especially blunt. You lived each moment in that moment. You lived life with such ease. 

I’m in a strange stage of life, where I feel the need to figure out where i am going. I feel the urge to do something, and start making an impact on this world. How I wish I could learn to not stress about my future. You lived day by day, having full faith that God would take you where He wanted exactly when He wanted. You lived out every moment without worrying about the next. And I wish I could do that. Maybe that’s what i need to learn to do. Maybe you were quietly teaching me how to live all along, when you said things like, “don’t worry. You’ll get there eventually. Enjoy now while you can.”

It sounds strange but maybe I’ll sit outside of that cigar shop and just be there, fully, without worrying or stressing. Maybe I’ll people watch and watch the rain come down like we did that day. Maybe that familiar smell will be a comfort. 


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