Today I received some completely surreal, unexpected and sad news.
As I ran a short 7 miles I felt a couple buzzes from my cell in my running coat pocket. The Black Keys’ “El Camino” blared in my ear buds. I was tunnel visioned and at peace as I ran across a snow swept bridge heading back to the gym.
I finished the run, showered at the gym, and got in my car when I finally looked at my phone. The buzzing was a Facebook message sent to a small group of people, some of whom I knew and others I did not, from Oklahoma State University where I went to graduate school.
The message was informing us that someone we all knew from graduate school passed away in the morning, a short month after being diagnosed with cancer.
I can’t say I knew the person who passed that well. He and his wife were people I often saw at the local grad school watering hole a decade ago. Together the two always were a natural fit. As someone who can be uncomfortable in a crowd, their presence always created a welcomed atmosphere for me. Since that time I would catch up their lives occasionally through Facebook and blogs.
Today I sat in my car with my phone, with the snow blowing outside and all of those memories and feelings from a decade earlier sweeping back in. Surprisingly, I found myself choking up.
I went on to read his wife’s blog that details some of what she’s gone through over the past month. Her writing added a heartbreaking poignancy and honesty to what she’s been through and what she is going through now.
Reading it all, processing this news, of people whose lives I’ve only crossed briefly has left me wanting to absorb the pain I read, from the wife and the close friend who let us all know.
A post, in his wife’s own words, frame why I was so moved at the news of this good man’s passing:
These are the words she wrote about the nature of prayer, human interaction and the Universe. Her husband touched my life briefly, but powerfully in the most everyday sort of way with a few laughs and conversation years ago, along with the well written posts sharing their lives since then. I can only imagine how many others have been affected.
Simply being who he was made a difference and left a wonderful memory in the world. And the world at once feels the lesser without him and so much more to have met him.