Certianly one of the most profound and beautiful of human experiences is the way in which we experience the death of someone we love deeply. It's no cliche to say that we die with them, for we are never quite the same for having lost them.
Nor is it inaccurate to say that they live on in us. At their memory we are compelled to laugh and to cry, to smile and to ache. They inhabit our waking thoughts and they visit our dreams. By sharing their life, they have shaped who we are, and they shape us further by their passing.
This, it would seem to me, is one of the most profound things that a human being can experience, and yet is experience by nearly everyone. It's something we feel because of our interconnectedness and deep loving bonds, and yet it is something we experience in an isolation and deep spiritual loneliness - this in spite of well wishers who would seek to give us comfort.
This post is long overdue, I suppose. God has, in the last 18 months, called home several people for whom I cared deeply. Some I called "friend". All of their passings came as a surprise, as all had seemignly a great deal of life stretched before them.
To Chad, my boyhood friend. Throughout the span of my 35 years, God has blessed me with first-rate friends, and you were the first of those. I treasure the many memories I have of us. You've no idea what I would give for another day to be your friend.
To Frank, I could never have made it without you, man. You showed me kindness in ways you may not even realize. You were fond of saying that church was for girls 'cause they like to play dress-up and have social hour. It might surprise you to realize that you embodied the values that Jesus taught like few I've ever met. At a critical time in my life you were just the friend I needed - very literally a gift from God. I look forward to seeing you again.
Orval, as Tom said, you really were the best of us all in so many ways. I toiled and worshipped and ate my way through many a weekend with you. You were so important to so many of us, and had so much of life before you. May God receive you into his rest.
Finally, there was one of God's perfect creatures. Katie, I don't know what to say. I've never met someone your age so selfless and Godly. I miss your smile, and your help, and the real-life example that you set for my girls. The world is certainly dimmer without your light.