Two months. 61 days. Too many hours and minutes to count. I can scarcely believe that this much time has passed since I got the phone call that would change my life. It seems like just yesterday that our worlds were forever changed. It amazes me how quickly time passes us by… how the earth revolves so smoothly even when it feels as though our world has come to a halt. I don’t really understand it, admittedly. I don’t understand how this world can go on without you. It isn’t supposed to, you know. The world isn’t supposed to spin in your absence, the days aren’t supposed to pass without your smile.
I keep remembering the wonderful times we shared over the course of our 7+ year friendship. I didn’t get the opportunity to know you all of my life like some people did, but I’m so grateful for the time we had. You always were teasing me or making fun of me, or giving me hard (but good) advice. You drove me crazy sometimes… always being that older brother that I never had. Sometimes you were overprotective and that annoyed me so much. But in retrospect… you were right to be. You saved me from a lot of heartbreak and hurt, even if I was stubborn and didn’t want to see that you knew best (most of the time).
I have so many fond memories that I’ve been meditating on. I could talk about the crazy stories from Seneca Lake for hours, or the countless roadtrips to random churches Karrie would take us to, or Florida, or camp Bethel, or Skyview, or the time we went to the mountains, or all the food escapades we went on, or senior year… there are so many fun times we all shared. I like being able to look back on my high school experience and see it in a positive light. I’m only able to do that because of you and the incredible friends in our graduating class.
I miss you, and it hurts so much. I miss being able to call you after a bad day or any day really and just catch up on what the both of us have been up to for the last few weeks. We didn’t text every day, but we checked up on eachother every week or so. You were one friend that I could go for months without seeing, but when we reunited it was as though no time had passed. I never doubted our friendship for a second, and I knew that it would never fade, no matter how many years passed or where life took us. It seems unfair now, for me to be going on with my life when you lost yours. But I’m reminded and relieved that you would not come back, even if you could, because you are in eternity. You are doing what you were created to do – worship in God’s presence, spotless and blameless. You are free of the stain of this world and the hurt, pain, sin, grief, and sorrow that it brings. You and Haley are standing before God, made whole in His presence. I am convinced that when you got there, the Lord greeted you with the words, “well done, My good and faithful servant.”
Your short life on earth made such an impact, in so many lives, in so many states, even in different countries. It’s not an exaggeration to say that anyone who had the privilege of having a conversation with you was impacted in a positive way. At your celebration of life service, I was astounded at how many people came to pay their respects and share stories of you. I was amazed at how many people’s lives you changed. I feel so honored to be one of them.
One of the last conversations we had revolved around the future. We talked a lot about how Andrew and Lexa being engaged and JP and Dina getting married and all of our other incredible friends who are doing great things. And I was feeling restless, ready for my “great moment” to arrive, ready to see what the rest of my life would be like. I’m a planner and a worrier… always fearful of the future not turning out like I want it to be. You knew how much I fear the thought of not doing something with my life. But you… you were not fearful. You were content in the season of life you were in. You didn’t really have any big plans on the horizon or a clear path for the future. That would have freaked me out, but you embraced it. You knew that your future was in God’s hands, and you weren’t stressed about that. But at the same time, you were discontent with the world. You knew so well that this world is not our home, and you longed for something more than this world could give. And now you’re home!
That day, we talked about the guy I was just starting to date. And you were giving me the classic big brother treatment, grilling me with a thousand questions, partially to annoy me but mainly to make sure he was a good guy. You always looked out for me. And that afternoon, as I told you about Kevin and about the beginnings of our relationship, you were uncharacteristically quiet. You just sat and listened to me talk about the last couple months or so, and how my life had been impacted by this boy. And when I was done probably talking about mushy things or blubbering on and on about things, you just smiled and said, “Well, you’re happy. And if he makes you this happy. No, like real happy. Then I approve.”
It amazes me at how well you knew me, sometimes even better than I knew myself. I used to get aggravated with how nosy you could be when it came to my relationships… but now I understand you did it because you loved me and you cared for me like the little sister you never had. And I will miss your constance in my life, your presence, your laugh, your witty jokes, your sarcasm, your grumpiness, your cigar smoking, your weird faces you always made when I tried to get a picture of us together… I will miss you more and more every day, I think. And I don’t know if i’ll ever “get over it”. In fact, I don’t think any of us will get over it. But I am so blessed that I can look back and see your smile and your constant friendship over the last several years. I am so honored to have called you my best friend. And I know a lot of people feel the same way about you and about Haley.
This post turned into a letter of sorts to you… and I’m not sure how to end it. I’m just so grateful that I had the chance to know you and your beautiful heart. I’m so thankful that I was able to experience your friendship and witness your inspiring relationship with God. I love you and I miss you so badly. I will see you when my time comes, and I rest in the fact that you will be waiting for me at on the shore of eternity.
I don’t have enough words to summarize how much Greg and Haley each shaped my life throughout middle school and high school and beyond. And I know that the fact that I got to know both of them and experience their joy and witness will continue to shape my life. And it’s so cool for me to be able to see and read about how their lives impacted so many other’s lives too. I have found comfort in sharing stories with friends and laugh and cry with those I love in light of our loss.
If I’ve learned anything these last two months it’s that community is so important and we as believers are created to BE in a healthy, encouraging community. Without the community of godly, loving friends, these last two months would have been unbearable. But because of our love for God and our love for each other, we have been able to support, carry, and hold each other in this storm. We have been able to speak light into the darkness that grief brings. We have been able to rest in God’s faithfulness and His promises. We are able to cling fast to the fact that He is STILL good and He is STILL God.
The months ahead will have its highs and lows, they will feel heavy and they will feel light. They will be full of light, and some of them will be full of darkness. But they will ultimately be full of hope.
So friends, I leave you with this verse that I keep reading and finding hope and peace in.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18New International Version (NIV)
17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.