Thursday, April 27, 2017

Until We Meet Again

Today we laid to rest one of my very first friends. I had three other life long friends that I met in kindergarten. Randy had been one of those friends.

When we were in sixth grade, he had been my very first Homecoming "date." I use the word "date" in the loosest of terms: our parents drove us to the game separately and while we sat on the same row on the bleachers, he sat with his friends and I sat with mine. After the half time show, we shared fries and a Coke from the concession stand. Like any other 'tween relationship, it ended that night, as he ran off to play a pick up game of football just outside the end zone, and I went to find my parents.

 When we were in seventh grade, he was stricken with cancer. I don't remember which one exactly but I remember how, with graphic detail, he had described the removal of several feet of intestine. While he was away having chemo, we had an assembly where we discussed his diagnosis, what to expect when he returned, how he lost his hair, but how he was still the same Randy that everyone knew and loved.

I remember it being touch and go at one point.The reality that he might actually die had us all stepping over that thin veil between innocence and knowledge of one's mortality. This was the year that Randy accepted Christ and Easter of that year, I made my profession of  faith as well.

Answered prayer came in the form of a new chemo drug that would eventually save his life. But like every bit of magic, it came with a price. The miracle drug would damage his heart, and cause a host of problems that he would have to deal with later.

Turns out that "later" was now.

Even after beating cancer a second time when we were in our twenties, he faced several set backs. But he never complained. We both got married, started families, and went about life as usual. We would share casual hellos as we passed at Wallyworld.

Randy's life unraveled just a few years before mine did, Within a few months, he got divorced, then lost his job of 15 years. But he always showed concern for others,  had an encouraging word, and would freely pray over the troubles of others. As I transitioned from married to divorces, he checked on me often, shared scripture and words of encouragement, and prayed with me for peace and comfort. He would always remind me that "God has a plan" and would often point out the detours in his own life. After 15 years in insurance, he completely changed focus, nd found a job in his field of study. He also got his personal trainer certificate and met another personal trainer in passing. Soon she was his fianc√©, set to marry next month.

Like with many minor illnesses he faced over the years. he was usually admitted to the hospital, and pumped full of antibiotics. This time a nasty sinus infection sent him to the hospital., with difficulty breathing and a high fever. His usual course of treatment did not  make a dent, and soon his organs began failing. By Sunday evening, he was gone.

At his funeral today, his son gave the eulogy. He had really become the touchstone for the family over the past week He made all the decisions over Randy's care, and eventually. the funeral. Just days after signing his father's DNR order, he was delivering the eulogy. He is the same age as Tigger.

I saw people that I have not seen outside of Facebook in over 30 years. After the service we stood around the parking  lot reminiscing and promising to ''get together soon."

Until we meet again, Randy.

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