My dad called me a little while ago to tell me that a friend of mine from my growing up days died this morning from a heart attack. He was a year younger than I am – just 40 years old. This is the first person who has died from my generation of people I grew up with. He was a Christian and his family are Christians, so there is the comfort that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”. But, it’s still disconcerting.
We lived around the corner from D’s family when I was in 6th grade through high school. During most of that time, there were very few other houses in the subdivision, so it was like we lived next door. We could walk through the vacant lots between our houses to visit. Of course, living in South Florida, we still took the road a lot because there were snacks and other critters in the woods. In middle school, D and my brother and I took the bus to school together every morning. One morning, we decided to skip school by hiding in the bushes until the bus passed and tell our parents that the bus didn’t come. Since we weren’t known for skipping school, the parents didn’t ask too many questions and we got away with it. I very clearly remember D teasing me because I was worried about skipping school and getting caught (I was quite the goody two-shoes).
For high school, D went to a Christian high school while my brother and I went to public school. We went to the same church for several years as well as living close to each other, so we saw each other frequently. His younger sister was born when I was 11 or 12 years old and I used to babysit her when D or his older sister wasn’t available. Most Christmas Days were spent with D’s family. We went over there for lunch, which included his grandparents as well.
Since I left home at 18, I’ve only seen D a couple of times. He got married and had a couple of kids. The last time I saw them, they were visiting my parents house with their little ones. The really funny thing is that D ended up becoming a professor of New Testament – yes, the same kid who convinced me to skip school in middle school. His parents and my parents have remained close. My mom helped take care of his mom when she had surgery. His parents now live about four hours from my parents, but they see each other (and both his sisters’ families) several times a year.
I’ll be praying for this family, but also for my parents. This was completely unexpected. I’ll hug my husband a little more tonight – and ask him to walk on the treadmill! And, I’ll be grateful, again, for a God who loved us enough to sacrifice his Son so that we can be with Him – and our friends – forever in heaven.