so today . . . i lost a friend. it's hard to describe how i feel. i am overwhelmingly sad, but at the same time i am glad that he is no longer suffering and in pain. he has been battling cancer for so long--about seven years. he fought hard to stay alive and did everything in his power to beat the disease, but early this morning his battle came to an end.
i am at a loss for words here. i have tried several times to write this paragraph, but nothing seems right. we were friends for a long time, maybe best friends. jim and his wife becky, and rollie and i used to get together and play cards once a month. if we went to their house, becky would always prepare a wonderful dinner; if they came to our house, we ate pizza. our daughters became friends. jim and rollie were both pastors, and sometimes the conversations we had while playing cards helped them keep their sanity. it was good to have friends who understood our lives in a way most people can't. there were times when our conversations would help solve problems; there were times when we laughed so hard we couldn't breathe. those friday nights saved us--we were able to be ourselves, knowing that no matter what was said or done, we would still be friends.
it is hard to maintain a friendship when great distances separate you, and now that we live over 1000 miles apart we rarely get to see each other any more. and so it is really hard for me to believe that jim is gone, because he is still very much alive in my mind--graciously eating pizza for the hundredth time, taunting my lack of skill at rook, mocking something i said. he was like that annoying little brother that you look forward to seeing. he loved his family, he loved his church, he loved God, he loved people. he was a good guy.
so today i am sad. not for jim, because as his wife said, he is finally well! but for all of us who will miss him. he fought this battle with courage and determination and integrity. even in the midst of his illness, he tried to be kind and encouraging to the people he encountered. and i think that today jim can say, " I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Tim 4:7 (NIV)