I attended the wake of a friend today. The last time I had heard from him was just over a year ago – he had sent out an e-mail titled “Important – Tim Butler”. In it, he described his diagnosis and the beginning of his battle with lung cancer. I was so taken aback I had no idea how to respond, I starred the e-mail so that I would respond to it when the news had some time to settle. As time went by, the message made its way to the bottom of my in-box. The few times I would happen by it, I would ponder once again how to respond and save it for another time. As I knelt by his casket I thought I was too late. How could I have waited so long? After sharing my condolences, thoughts and love with his family and friends, I headed home. As evening fell and the events of the afternoon started to sink in, I decided to light a candle in his memory and re-read his message while listening to Adagio for Strings. While reading, a response finally took shape.
The last line he wrote was: “Thank you all and I look forward to laughing about this with you in the future.”
I’ve had your e-mail starred in my inbox for the last year. I keep on beating myself up for not having responded to you sooner. I’m sure you understand that your e-mail totally took me off guard, and I had no idea at all how to react. Your candor, strength, and lightheartedness were at a stark contrast to what you shared with me, I think it goes to show how you will handle this into the future. I sincerely appreciate you including me on this message. Though I was never as close to you as some other mutual friends of ours, I always saw what a good person you are. Not only because of the ways in which our friends respect you, but also because of the way that Peggy adores you! You are very fortunate to have found each other and to have started a family together. She will be by your side through all of this and your relationship will be stronger for it. Your friends and family are here to support you as well – if there is anything I can do, all you need do is ask. I sincerely believe that everything happens for a reason, though it may not be clear now or even down the road, there is a greater plan for us all. It is obvious that you have touched the lives of many people and will continue to do so no matter what the future brings. That being said, I want you to know that I have been keeping you and your family in my prayers and I will continue to do so. I pray that you all have the clarity, strength and lightheartedness that you have already shown. I too look forward to talking to you and laughing about this with you in the future – but take all the time you need, we have all eternity.
Until next time,
I hit send, finishing what I should have long ago, knowing that somewhere in the ether my message will reach its intended destination.