It is a cool quiet night here in Hawaii. The kids are asleep and I have a few moments of peace before I head to bed. As if your impression is carried on the slight breeze coming through the room, your memory is evoked randomly, as is usually the case. I've become used to your memory showing up in my thoughts unexpectedly over the years, little things seem to conjure them up now and then and often.
I'll be listening to an awesome worship song and I'll wonder what you would think of it. I remember while you were working in the city you had Tower Records on speed dial and they would deliver whatever new Christian Contemporary songs or worship CD that came out to your office. I remember you telling me you would be on the phone with them "What's new? Polka?? ....ok... Bring it in!" You said you did that because we, as poor youth group students, wouldn't have the means to buy a whole bunch and sift through the best ones, so you would do that for us. When you found an amazing album you were the first to tout it to all of us. Your services wouldn't be needed anymore in this day and age when I can hear a sampling of any song I want on iTunes but this act of love and many others are what, till this day, cements your memory in my heart.
The fact you would dedicate whatever free time to hang out with immature, ungrateful youth group students continues to impact me. You would drive us back to our homes, be available to chat or IM anytime we needed it, and you also would not shy away from giving us a good dose of truth in love when we needed it.
You've left an indelible impression on my life and on the lives of many others.
As my thoughts whirl around my head each day I never know when your memory will be stirred up like tonight. For the past 12 years its been like this. Funny though, when I remember you it's not what you did, how you sacrificed, how you loved us that comes to mind, it's the little things, like your laugh. I remember your laugh was so deep and loud it seem to bellow through the room. I can still hear it like it was yesterday. The depth of your laughter was almost indicative of your ability to make others laugh. Laughter pervades almost every memory I have of you. I remember always learning something from you. You knew everything from pop culture to sports, to theology and that you had the perfect tension of being in the world but not of it. I remember you leading praise and being ushered so close to the presence of God it's as if I could feel His breath on the back of my neck.
Interestingly, each year as I go through different life stages, your memories stay the same, but they reverberate differently as time goes on. I remember when I first started working full time and feeling absolutely spent, and then remembering how you worked full time but put in every effort for those around you and for ministry. So many times my fatigue and excuses become diminished and petty when I remember you. And so many times, even today, I find myself peeling off my bed, picking up a late phone call, putting in one more ounce of effort, because you taught me that effort, the interactions, and sacrifice mean something. Your memory reminds me that maybe my efforts could one day mean something to somebody the way your efforts and heart impacted my life and many others.
I don't know why it had to be you in the north tower on September 11, 2001. I don't know why someone that was capable of loving so much and giving so selflessly had to be taken from us that day, someone we all knew and loved as a brother. Maybe because your passions were too deep for the shallowness of this world, maybe because your laughter could not be held in a fleeting shadow (Job 8:9), and your ability to lead others in worship was fit... only for heaven. I look forward to the day we'll all worship together again.