This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24
Some relationships take years to develop; others are born in an instant. Bill and I will be close friends, because although the history we shared was short, it was deep. I met Bill in the local coffee shop which served as the hub of all the small town activity. I knew he’d be comfortable talking there. We took the corner table left empty by an unspoken, unwritten rule that reserved it for private talks of local land sales or business deals. Our meeting was on the morning after his world had crashed. It was less then twenty-four hours before that he and his wife of eighteen years had been sitting, enjoying their post-breakfast coffee and discussing the local news. She got up from the table to shower before work. Still in discussion, Bill followed her into the bedroom. Then, complaining of a sudden excruciating headache, she laid down on the bed and in the brief passing of a painful moment, Barbara died.
The doctor called it a probable aneurysm. Bill called it the end of his life. “There was so much we hadn’t done,” he said. “So much we’d put off until a better time.” Now, less than twenty-four hours later we met, sipped coffee, and talked in the past tense about the only girl he’d ever loved, the one who personified for him every quality he’d ever sought in a mate, and the woman he’d “hoped to grow old with.” And in these few moments, though strangers, we became intimate friends. Friends sharing memories and experiences that were, and dreams and hopes that never would become. Then we shared silence. Silence and a third, or was it now a fourth cup of coffee? Whatever the count, the rising steam labeled it both fresh and hot. Then breaking his stare from the drifting trail of steam, Bill looked up and spoke in a whisper, “Rod, there are just no guarantees, are there?”
There was so much I wanted to say, so much I wanted to point out about life being a gift…about the necessity of celebrating the time we have…about there being no promises of health or wealth or longevity…about how we so often live for the future, working for some goal, some success, some achievement, or some house, job, degree, and financial status – and how we sometimes spend all our present betting on a future that never comes about. Sadly, I knew it was now too late to share thoughts of celebrating while you can. It was only time for remembering and silence.
“You’re right, Bill, “I whispered back, “I really am sorry. There are no guarantees.”
Prayer: You have given me this day, Lord; lead me to live it wisely.