Saturday, July 18, 2009

Two Shocks in Two Days

I've been away from the computer for the last couple of days due to completely unexpected circumstances. I left work early yesterday in order to drive to my old hometown for a funeral that took place at 9:30 this morning during which I said my goodbyes to one of the oldest friends I had. I met Bill during the summer between our seventh and eighth grades, some 48 years ago, if you can imagine.

Over the years we lost touch with each other for long periods of time as I moved out of the country and he changed addresses, but when I thought of home I always thought about my old friend and often tried to find him with no success. In March of this year, after one of those long breaks, I heard from Bill's daughter via Facebook. She was trying to help her dad renew contact again and wondered if I was the person she was looking for -I was. As things turned out, though, I learned that Bill had been suffering from cancer for over two years and that things were getting a bit "iffy" for him. I had a sense that things were getting much worse, much more quickly than anyone expected, but I was shocked to learn that my old friend died early on Wednesday morning.

His family and great number of friends said goodbye to him this morning.

As I was preparing to leave Houston, I received another email, this one from a friend who lives in London. She told me that a mutual friend of ours, an American I've known and worked with for about 15 years had been caught up in the hotel bombings in Jakarta yesterday morning (Houston time). Gary, who now works in Jakarta, was attending an event in one of the bombed hotels and he has apparently suffered very severe burns and other injuries. He has been flown to Singapore for treatment and the good news is that he has survived what is likely to have been the most critical period of his injuries. I haven't heard any news for the last 12 hours or so, but I'm taking that as a good sign.

Life is short, folks, something we tend to forget. And for some of us, it is even shorter than we expected it to be. Take a moment to appreciate what you have and those who love you. Take nothing for granted; make the most of the time God gives you and leave some good memories for those who loved you while you were on this earth. It is too easy to let everyday events get in the way of really living your precious life. Don't let that happen to you.

OK, enough preaching. I know that's not why you're here and, honestly, I wrote this as much for myself as for anyone else who happens to read it.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear about your friends, Sam. Your message was beautifully stated -- life IS short, and I so appreciate your tender reminder to enjoy every precious moment. Take care...those shocks hit hard. You are in my thoughts.

  2. It doesn't hurt to remind ourselves every once in awhile of the fleeting nature of things.

  3. Thanks for this post. And sorry for your loss. Seems like it has been a year of hard hits for you, but the message you take from it is wonderful.

  4. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post. I try to remember to tell the people that I love that I love them every single day because you never know what will happen. You & your friends are in my thoughts & prayers.

  5. I'm am sorry that you have been receiving bad news of late. Don't apologize for posting something other than a book review. We enjoy anything that you write but I am sorry that it had to be sad news.

  6. It's amazing how connect we all are to world events thesedays. This really brings Jakarta home.

    I hope your friend recovers very soon.

    No apologies needed.

  7. I'm sorry about your friends, Sam. I'll be praying.

  8. Thanks to all for such kind words and understanding. This kind of thing has a way of making a person feel very mortal.

    I worked for almost ten years in Algeria and, even though I knew I was walking around with a target on my back, I convinced myself that that kind of thing happens to someone else - not me. I'm sure that Gary felt the same way or he would not have been there. It's the kind of defense mechanism that works in an environment like that one.

  9. So sorry for the loss of your friend. I'm glad your other friend has survived the bombings and I hope his recovery period will not be too difficult.