One of the best friends I ever had - or expect to have - died early last Sunday morning. He had not been sick for a long time - but long enough that his death was no surprise. And still a shock.
One of the penalties of getting older (and there are several - though offset, I hope, by other benefits) is that people that you have known for a long time will pass away. When my uncle died this past August, I realized that part of what I was losing with his death - apart from a loving uncle that would do ANYTHING for me - was one of the few people remaining on the planet who knew me before I knew myself.
With Len's death this week, I've lost another person in my life that I could count on - whatever the circumstance. I've lost a man old enough to be my father - who treated me like a brother. I will miss his wit, his eloquence, his precision, his warmth - his voice.
I will miss helping him get into the church on Sunday morning. I will miss checking on him when a worship service ends. His death is not real to me yet. I don't know when that moment will come. Maybe it won't come all at once. Maybe it will take a long time. But - as Len often said to me - "These things have a way of resolving themselves." Whenever I hear those words in my mind, it will be Len's voice that I hear.
I take comfort in memories of my friend. Len was a man who knew that it took more effort and preparation to speak with brevity - and when he said "I will be brief," it was a promise you could count on. I remember singing beside him for so many years - and with Gene Thompson and the late Phil Haddrill. I learned how to sing beside these great men. And I remember how Len would let his mischievous side show - making a comment in a stage whisper during rehearsal - perhaps one of the other sections stumbled or sang off-key - and when asked to repeat the comment, Len would cough and say "I was just clearing my throat".
Beyond my memories, the Lord has comforted me with these thoughts: Knowing that Len and Maggie have been reunited after so long apart; That the pain and fear which Len experienced during his time in the hospital are over; That my good friend has now been able to hear his Lord speak to him those words that I still hope to hear someday - "Well done, my good and faithful servant".
I only hope that I can live out the remainder of my days in a way that would make Len proud. And I hope that everyone who knew Len will find comfort in memories of him - having faith that the same God who allowed Len to be a part of their lives has not abandoned them in this time of sorrow. Let us live as people who have hope of reunion with our father, brother and friend.
Have you ever thought
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