This week my father’s best friend of 30 years died suddenly of a massive heart attack at the age of 63.
My father and step-mother were in international waters when we got the news. My husband made a call to the ship at 4 a.m. local time to break it to my father that his friend had passed.
They could not make it back in time for the funeral. My father did not have the opportunity to bid his friend farewell.
Today I acted as my father’s proxy of sorts as I perched in a polished pew of an ornate, Chicago cathedral to witness a beautiful celebration of a wonderful man’s life.
I watched as the woman he married 45 years ago wept in her son’s arms. I listened as his children eulogized him in eloquence and strength. Each spoke with magnificent esteem of their father and rightfully so.
There aren’t any words to describe the light that shone in Mr. Spark’s eyes when he spoke of his wife and children. He exuded kindness and joie de vivre to all he knew and the family he and Mary built was a model in which to aspire.
As we drove into the city, the buildings flashed by streaming into memories. I cannot help myself from weeping this week. Although it is not my best friend or my father, Mr. Sparks has been a fixture in my life since I was a child. My father only mentions him in maybe every ten sentences or so.
I weep for the absence of Mr. Sparks in my father’s life. The space he will have in his life where his friend used to be. I weep for his wife, Mary, who will now learn to dance through life without her lifelong partner. I weep for his children, grown, just like me, who still need their Daddy. I weep knowing Mr. Sparks no longer walks this earth with me. I still recall the day I told him I would marry my husband and the care he took in telling me I had made a good choice in character.
There just always was a Mr. Sparks and his life-sized smile and infectious laugh. I want to weep for joy that he was faithful to God in his life and now he dances with Jesus.
It’s moments like this that cause us to examine our own mortality and the brevity of our time here.
It’s moments like this that force us to ask, Do we love enough, forgive enough, live enough?
Moments like this that beg the question, what kind of legacy will I leave behind?
Just as we approached the city, we read a billboard sign that stated:
Do one thing a day that scares you
I imagined that God authored that sign. And if so, he wouldn’t mean it in the way of cliff jumping or sky diving. He’d mean the stuff that counts.
The stuff that prevents us from living the kind of life Mr. Sparks did.
Things like loving deeply, asking for forgiveness, granting forgiveness, discarding my pride, the risk of investing my all.
So what scares you? Are you willing to try to do one thing a day that does? In the name of a life and of a legacy?
I’m going to try, Mr. Sparks. I’m going to try.