Randy died on Friday evening, August 17, 2012. I was on vacation and didn’t find out about it until six days later. His memorial service is next week.
Since I first wrote about Randy last April (though just recently posted), I have been thinking about him a lot. His breathing had been increasingly labored over these past few months and perhaps I knew that he wouldn’t be alive much longer.
What is it that made our relationship? As I noted, he couldn’t do anything for me and he really didn’t need anything from me beyond buying him cigarettes and taking him for coffee. And yet we somehow needed each other.
It seems well known that a dramatic event can forge lasting bonds between those sharing the experience. Soldiers in combat together is one example. Most of us don’t experience such events. However, life itself is hard. Each day we arise to face a new day with its own joys and sorrows, challenges and victories and defeats. St. Anthony famously said each morning, “Today, I begin again.” Sure we have occasional peaks and valleys, but for most of us the majority of life is simply ordinary.
There is something about persevering well in the ordinary. Some who have recently heard my story of visiting Randy have commented that I was a really good guy for visiting him weekly for over five-and-a-half years. I often didn’t feel that way. Each week I was simply keeping a promise to return made the previous week. But perhaps persevering well in the ordinary is indeed quietly heroic.
We live in a culture of little bother. We are often afraid to commit to people or events because something better may arise and we can’t be bothered with a promise. We look to live on the mountain top and ordinariness is intolerable, a valley is unthinkable. We want our unbothered happiness and we want it now. But that is the very thing that forged my relationship with Randy–the peaks, the valleys, and the long stretches of ordinariness in ourn lives together. Randy and I had little in common, and yet through our time together we shared something that will forever bond us together.
The Apostle Paul, writing in the Bible’s New Testament says that we are to rejoice in tribulation because tribulation brings perseverance, perseverance forms character, and from proven character we find hope. Together, Randy and I found hope. We found hope while living in a world filled with meanness and suffering and hope in the midst of our own circumstances. We found hope found in character-forming perseverance during the ordinariness of life, enduring together the day-to-day trials and tribulations.
I am overjoyed for Randy. I believe he is with God and has now finally found the healing for which we so often prayed. We persevered together in mostly ordinary life and I believe together we found Christ’s promised hope along the way. But I will miss him for now; we walked together for five-and-a-half years. God blessed me through Randy’s life, and every memory of Randy will cause me to say, “The Lord’s been good to me today.”