367 days ago Kristi and I had friends over for pizza and football. After living in our current house for just over three years this was the day I faced a serious man sized dilemma. Where to watch the game?
The easy answer would be the TV in the basement, at 40" it is the largest in the house, and the previous owners surround sound install would add extra excitement to the game. Yet with five kids and a 1.5 year old (he's a kid too I suppose so 6 kids) toddling about, the basement was likely to be the high traffic area in the house. Not super conducive to watching football or carrying on conversations. The bedroom TV would be just as good, minus the surround sound, and it would also be great because the doors can close to keep the kids out. After some consideration I deemed the bedroom TV to be no good as I just simply couldn't handle the picture of my friend and I sitting hip to hip in the bed my wife and I share. Down to the iMac we use for Netflix in the family room. Once upon a time I had a dongle that allowed me to plug a coax cable into the computer so I could watch (AND RECORD LIVE TV PEOPLE!!!!!) to my computer. I wasn't sure if I had the license to use it any longer, but avoiding pillow talk during the game was worth the effort. As luck would have it, I was able to get what I needed to watch the Michigan game in the family room, with the wives, away from the kids. Win, win, and win.
I don't recall much about the game beyond the fact that Michigan won, though they didn't look great doing so. I do remember a lame targeting call against Michigan that was discussed, I'm assuming we talked adoption, school, kids, upcoming vacation plans, and the usual family discussion you'd expect on a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon. We may have even discussed a trip out west in 2017 or 2018 with our families in tow. I've still not given up on the idea.
I also remember purchasing a 4-pack of Bell's Two Hearted IPA because I knew my friend really liked that particular beverage, and I wasn't opposed to having one my self during the game. As half-time (and dinner time) neared we placed an order for pizza at Vitale's in Zeeland and paused the game (RECORD LIVE TV!!!). I drove to get our pizza and the small talk continued. That last meaningful conversation I remember is a discussion on a local school's soccer team and how the Freshmen team is consistently amazing, yet their variety team is consistently mediocre. I joked that perhaps it was due to socio-economic status, and the need for the older students to work. I concluded it would be a fun thing to study, my friend probably agreed to get me to stop talking and on we went. As we split the bill at Vitale's I'm quite certain I was about $2.00 short of being even. Knowing my friend was tight enough to pinch a snot rocket out of a Lincoln penny, I offered what I had to make things right. He responded by telling me he'd just have one more of my Two Hearted and call it even.
The night progressed, the game was won, pizza was eaten, dessert was devoured, and everybody went to bed well fed, happy, and healthy.
Sunday. Church. Nap. Dinner. Bed. Ok, maybe we went outside and did fun outdoor stuff on a beautiful fall afternoon, but I don't remember and looking it up in my health app seems narcissistic. Although I wouldn't be surprised if I went to see one of my mentors, Captain Sundae.
365 days ago. Monday. I woke up and got ready for work, kissed the wife and kids good bye and headed to the office. My drive is 7-10 minutes long and to date the biggest hazards have been wild turkeys, and unconfirmed cell phone usage by me. I don't recall exactly what was happening that morning, but I do remember feeling busy or that the day was not going well. Little did I know that roughly 10 minutes before I left my house for work, the same friend that sat on the couch across from me was in an accident on his way to work. Sometime after 9:00am I got a text from Kristi that said "Please pray, friend has been in a serious accident". Huh. That stinks. Really stinks. Honestly my first, and fallen reaction, was something to the effect of hoping my friend was ok, thinking my friend was ok, but also thinking it wasn't surprising. He kind of has a history of car accidents, bumps, dings, and bruises. Although none of them serious, so this was new. The updates continued to come in throughout the day, none of them super positive, but none conclusively negative. I figured God would pull my friend through, he'd have a rough path to recovery, but eventually all would be well again.
That night after work we ate, put the kids to bed, and settled in for a quiet evening at home. The reports from the hospital were still inconclusive, and I was super hesitant to visit. What was the point? Thankfully my wife is a better person than I and off we went. There is a small story about parking at Spectrum in Grand Rapids that pretty much amounts to us parking in the wrong garage all together and not really understanding how to get to the hospital room to visit... we made it to what I will call the 3rd floor (could be 3th, 5th, 7th, I know not 1st or 2nd) and made our way to the waiting room. We met and hugged friends, our friend's wife, and then we went to see him in his room. I could be combining two days or emotions, but I don't think anyone will care. I remember standing outside the room and reading the vitals (I watched ER AND stayed at a Holiday Inn Express) on the monitors at the nurses station. I also seem to recall the Tigers were playing meaningful baseball, but I could be wrong. My friend is a die hard Tigers fan so I thought maybe he'd heal up in time to watch the Tigers move on to the playoffs. The vitals were interesting, they looked healthy. They looked stable, and to me they looked hopeful. Kristi and I didn't stay too long, just long enough to say hello, get a grasp of what reality was at the time, and back home we went. Hopeful.
Tuesday. The reports Tuesday were not as good. I think it was Tuesday anyway... My friend's brain wasn't doing a whole lot. His body (I think) responded to pricks in the feet, but the brain wasn't active. Two different neurosurgeons visited without speaking to each other and came to the same conclusion. My friend's brain was dead. He was gone.
A year later I still think of him when I look at the poorly hidden antenna cable sticking out of the back of my iMac. The only reason it is there is so we could watch the football game. I still smile when I think about the borderline inappropriate comment that we should study why the local high school's soccer team digresses as the players progress through school. I still have the last can of Two Hearted from that 4-pack I bought just so I had a respectable offering for him that afternoon (He's not high maintenance, I just like to be a good host).
Oh, before I end this post... I do need to say that my friend was a man. He was a great man who had an impact on many people's lives, but he was still a man. He did man things like leaving dirty socks on the ground, forgetting to put the toilet seat down, and giving his compliments to the chef without using his words. There, I said it.
So what? I have no idea. I have about 13 blog posts in my head that I want to share, but taking you through the minutia of my late September 2016 seemed like good therapy for me as I remember my friend, Kevin, who left his earthly home a year ago today and entered in to his eternal home in Heaven. It seems to me that Kevin was intentional about a lot of things in his life. If there is anything I feel comfortable saying to make this post have a point it would be that you should be intentional too. Be intentional about your faith, your family, and your fun. And to cheese it up a bit... Live well so that you can finish well, whenever God calls you home.