Hunter politely asked, “Mom this wasn’t a good week for this, was it?” I let him know right away no week is ever a good week for this, especially when it’s unexpected. He said, “But Mom you’re gonna miss Valentine’s Day and my birthday. (Pause. He grasped for words to lessen the guilt.) But I know you can’t help it. It’ll be ok Mom.”
I had planned to start this week by writing a Valentine’s post about twenty things I love most about David Douthit. Instead I packed for the beach, but not for a leisurely, toes-in-the-sand trip. This was a journey to say good-bye, to cry a bit, to reminisce and to comfort.
He was my cousin, 4 years younger. Too young to leave so soon, he was a single father. His little Logan was his shadow. Rarely was Billy seen without little Logan glued to his daddy’s side. He was faithful to his commitments. And just as the bass fish and deer decorated his funeral flowers to perfectly capture the essence of his personality, kind words adorned his eulogy with equal depiction. A young man too quickly taken who won’t be soon forgotten. What could have prepared us?
And as Billy’s friend the Episcopalian minister questioned, “How could I have known? How did I know Friday in my office would be the last time I would see Billy on this side? There’s no way I could’ve known!”
The minister’s words were so simple with strong African or Jamaican dialect, not sure which. Through the cool, sea breeze he spoke with such conviction, “Don’t judge, or you’ll be judged! Forgive one another! Love one another! Get to know Jesus Christ as your Savior!” His voice was loud, and every sentence required an exclamation!
These are his words I’ll never forget, “Live today like it could be your last, and someday you’ll be right! It will be your last.”
Could I have known? There’s no way! If I had, I would’ve planned better. And for sure, I would’ve said a proper good-bye.
Billy will be missed. I’ll never forget his nickname for me. He called me Sugarland, after the country music band. But He left me with more than an endearing name. He left me with questions to ponder. I’m forever reminded of the brevity of life. It calls to my attention I’m not guaranteed another day, and I must choose how to live the ones I’m given.
Will I live with a sense of responsibility and urgency to love deeply and follow God hard? Will people have seen glimpses of Jesus because I walked this sod? Will people be left with truth and encouragement? What exactly will I leave behind? I want to live well and leave well, don’t you?