Recently a good friend of mine died. It was unexpected and shocking, as death often is. It was even more tragic because my good friend, someone who has been a regular part of my life for over 20 years, had no idea how important he was.
My friend had his challenges. He struggled mightily with his particular demons. Though he was blessed with a loving family, fiercely loyal friends and all the talent and personality a person could want, he still struggled. Because he was human. He fought battles that were uniquely his yet, at the same time, not much different than the challenges we all face. He confronted the same questions we all do. Why am I here? What do I do? Am I valued? Do I make a difference? Am I loved?
He had enough charm and personality to fill any room he found himself in. He was as smart as anyone I knew. His talents ran so deep I doubt he ever came close to testing their limits.
Yet he sometimes doubted his own value. He questioned his own abilities.
My friend was a lot of things. A complex person, no doubt. But for all his quirks and talents, he had one defining characteristic. He always made me smile. No matter what he was going through, no matter how he felt, he always did things to make other people enjoy the moment.
As I read his obituary I was not at all surprised to see these words:
“He made us all smile”
That says everything. And it reminds me why I’ll miss my friend so much. Call me selfish but I like people who are fun to be with. I like people who make me smile and laugh. Money and power mean nothing next to a loyal friend who makes life fun. That is priceless.
As part of my grieving process, I look for lessons. To help me remember and honor my good friend, I ask myself, “what can I learn from him?”
My answer is: Plenty.
First, my friend taught me to live in the moment. He knew how to entertain, have fun and truly enjoy the present. Enjoying the present is something I need to do better.
Second, no matter who you are, you are important. Someone cares about you. Someone appreciates you. My friend brought fun and laughter to all his friends. Yet he harbored doubts about his own worth. He shouldn’t have. He was was important and he was loved.
Maybe the corollary here is to try harder to let people we care about know how important they are.
And finally, my friend taught me the importance of making people smile. Too often we focus on what we want or need. We deceive ourselves into thinking, if we don’t look out for ourselves, no one else will. We forget the real value in life is in our relationships with others. We forget, there is nothing better for our souls than making someone smile.
So I thank my friend for helping me learn a little more about life. I thank him for being a loyal friend for so many years. And I thank him for making me smile again and again. I’ll miss you my friend but I will not forget you.