See that jeep, I bought it eight years ago on a dare. Well, really not a dare, more like a dream. My best friend Sean and I would sit and talk over beers about love, life, and cars during our Thursday night get togethers. I would always talk about wanting to buy an old jeep with a manual transmission that I could cruise around town in during nice days in the summer. He kept harassing me to just do it already, and one night, perhaps with the influence of a beer or two, I made the call to an ad I found on Craig’s List and made the move. That was September of 2012, Sean died four months later. And I should have died with him.
On the morning of January 6, 2013, with a new fallen snow and slight fog, my best friend died during the first run of the morning at a ski resort in Whistler, BC. And I should have followed him off that cliff. I was supposed to go with Sean on that ski trip, and I know that I would have been right behind him during that first run, on a fresh snow on a trail he hadn’t been on before. Instead, I had just returned to the states from Haiti, for a medical trip there. I was torn about which trip to go on, but ultimately decided to go to Haiti instead of Whistler. I still have the text message from him the day before he died, asking me how Haiti was and we should grab dinner when he got back.
I should be dead. Oh, I’m sure I have cheated the old Grim Reaper more than a time or two, but this particular incident sticks out the most. I’m sure we all have had our brushes with the big sleep, but did it change you? DId you get out of that car, or off that plane, and think to yourself “well, that was a close one, I better keep living this shitty life of mine?”. Or did it change you enough to think you can do just a bit more, just a bit differently?
Think about it though, if you were to walk away from a major car wreck, wouldn’t it change you just a bit? Don’t you think you would call that person you love, or squeeze your kids just a bit tighter from there on? Everyday we barely escape death, yet we don’t even realize it. We are all just a blown tire away from meeting our maker, and yet, we go on thinking we have thousands of days left.
What am I saying? Call the girl, buy the boots, take the trip. Yea, we have all seen the inspirational posts of facebook, we have all heard the saying “you can’t take it with you when you go”, but when do we really let that sink in? Do we wait until we are the person in that hospital bed uttering the words? Or do you breathe them in, while the person saying them is breathing their last breath out?
It’s Friday, start the weekend off right!! Be happy and have fun. Hell, the corona virus is coming, this may be your last chance to grab some actually Corona’s with some friends, so I suggest you do it. Swing on swings, jump on the squares when you see hopscotch on the ground. Call the people you love and tell them, make amends to the ones you hurt. If they can’t forgive you, that’s on them, but put forth the effort and say you tried. The world isn’t perfect, but you sure as shit will miss it when you’re gone. Embrace the silly things, and be silly yourself. Be the person that people tell funny stories about when you die, be the friend that can tell funny stories when someone else dies.
At Sean’s funeral, the priest asked to read the eulogy before the mass. He asked if I could make it shorter. I said yes. And guess what, when it came time for me to give it, I read the whole damn thing and added a few more lines to the mix. Why? Because he was my friend and he deserved all the time I could give him, because there would be no more times after that. I’m sure the priest was pissed (the glare kinda gave it away) and has made a call to the Big Guy upstairs about all of this, but that will be a score I will settle later, but not today. Today I will laugh with patients, cry with them if need be. I will coach a bunch of six years old and enjoy the innocence of youth, and I will enjoy at least one more day on this ball of dust floating around the sun, and I will pray that I have one more tomorrow.
Let’s go grab beers or coffee soon. Let’s talk about what we did in the past and forgive ourselves for being human, and let’s make plans for the future. Let’s talk about what holds us back, the stupid shame we put on ourselves, let’s conquer those demons. Let’s laugh and cry, and just be silly. I will even drive the jeep and let the wild blow wild on our faces and you can sing at the top of your lungs. And I will tell you about my friend Sean, and how he would tell you to just take the damn trip already, if he were still here.