This life isn’t forever. You know it, I know it. That’s just life. Here’s the thing about “just life.” Sometimes it hits us at an early age. But, if we’re lucky, it only comes around a few times until the odds are no longer in our favor.
In this case, “just life” is the reality of death. It’s always there, waiting for us. If you believe in God, “just life” ends in a much better place, which isn’t the end at all.
That doesn’t always make it easier. I’m sure you can relate.
Last week our community lost a wonderful man. Mark Benjamin was way too young to play the “just life” lottery. We’ve known he was sick for a while, although he kept the details from many of us. Of course he did. He was professional, positive, determined and always willing to cheer us on to success.
Of course I tried to learn more. I wanted to know if there was something we could do. “How are you,” I would ask him. “Can we help?”
Despite my attempts, he didn’t give me many details. I suppose in our conversations, he left that part to me.
“Leslie, your columns are always so personal,” he always told me. “You give so many details, I feel like I’ve known you for many years.”
“Do I tell too much?” I asked him.
Maybe. But he never made me feel that way. He always complimented me on this column and my business.
“Your website is going to be huge,” he said.
Did he truly believe that? I’m not sure. Did it matter? Of course not. He made me feel like I could be successful in all my adventures. Chances are, if you were lucky enough to cross his path, you felt it too.
Selfishly, I’m going to miss the support and kindness and generosity and friendship. It’s hard to imagine not seeing him at the next chamber event or business meeting in town. I’m sad for his family and friends and this community.
Mostly, I’m just sad the lottery of this life had to end for him so soon. That’s the thing about life. Every breath we take is one moment closer to our ultimate destination. It’s what we do in between that counts.
You know this, I do too. Why does it take death to remember?
Mark did a great job with those in between moments. I will never forget.
But life persists, even in death. And so we go about our days, remembering our friend and the things he taught us.
I will remember to share an encouraging word to an aspiring business owner. I will remember to live life with courage and wisdom and strength. And I will remember to hold back on the personal details – just enough to keep it interesting.
And some day, when we all meet again, we’ll toast with a bit of gin for a life well lived. Until then, I’m thankful there’s one more soul cheering us on in this lottery of life.