A year and a half ago, I got word that my friend Chad Max Miller and his brother Chris had died in a kayak accident. His death remains a solid reminder of the brevity of life, of the words from James: You are a mist that appears for a little while then vanishes.
I know James' intent was to remind his listeners that life is short, that we can't count on tomorrow. But I wonder if that mist really vanishes? That might be one of our greatest fears - the fear of being forgotten, of leaving no legacy. And certainly it's something that those of us left here struggle with; does anyone remember our loved one? Do they still tell the stories?
I remember Chad every day. In fact, it's still hard to believe he's gone. As I remember him, what sticks out is his character. Well, besides the anecdotes I could tell about funny shared events and good times we had. I remember how generous he was and how authentic he was. He didn't do things because they looked good; he did things because they were good. He was a hard worker because it was right to work hard. He played hard because it was fun to play hard. He helped people because they needed help.
It makes me think about my own life and mortality and the legacy I will leave. When I went to my high school reunion, there were all kinds of people I didn't remember and I wondered why they remembered me. What had I done that merited remembering?
Sometimes I find that motivating. But I'm usually just walking, one step at a time, as if life weren't a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.