Could I Have Known?

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?

4 thoughts on “Could I Have Known?

  1. lauriewhin says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. But I am touched by your thoughts about the importance of living with an eternal perspective. I love the minister’s words. Am I ready to stand face to face in front of Jesus if He calls me home right now? So many people I know never give a thought to eternity. Jesus tells us to store up our treasure in heaven and not earthly things, to number our days because we don’t know if God will give us one more day. My greatest desire for remembrance would be that others will say they met Jesus in and through me. And I pray that I will use the opportunities that God gives me to help others to know Jesus, because we can’t know how many days God has given them, either. Thank you for your important and encouraging words.

  2. rebeccaaarup says:

    This is exactly what God impressed on my heart when my brother in law got sick and died with leukemia. What am I doing to impact people for eternity? That experience completely changed my life, as you know. I’ll never forget that hard HARD lesson! God continues to touch my life with this truth with the illnesses if others and even myself. Truly, we never KNOW how long we have. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Rivera Douthit says:

      Yes Rebecca I remember when you walked through your brother in law passing with your sister. Certainly reminds us we aren’t in control of life and death, be we can choose how we spend the days we’re given.

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