I lost two friends this month
The first was completely out-of-the-blue, as I had just spoken to him a few weeks earlier, me excited for the promise of the coming new year, and he grateful that I had gifted him tickets to attend the 2021 Silicon Slopes Summit in mid-October.
Then Covid-19 reared its ugly and often indiscriminate head against his immunocompromised body and 10 days later, he was gone.
We were the same age.
The second journey beyond the veil of this existence started with blood in the urine some 16 months ago, never a good or pleasant sign.
It took over a month before the diagnosis was known: Bladder Cancer.
The big, effing C-word.
Surgery wasn't an option.
Chemotherapy and radiation were.
He tried both.
Cancer won; he lost.
Lesson No. 1: Be a Good Person
They were both good guys:
Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly ... yeah, you could probably continue down the list of the remaining 12 qualities of the Scout Law and they would both check off every single box.
As I think about both of them – Steve and Dale – naturally, I'm sad, yet I also smile.
They both made a difference in the world.
They made lives better.
They mattered, to others, and to me.
And as I think of them, their distinct differences are not what I recall ... it's their similarities:
- Their passions for life, family, work, God, and country.
- For doing the right things for the right reasons.
And as I think of them, I realize I want to be remembered in a similar way when God calls me home.
So I've resolved to be better.
To be more patient.
To listen better.
To pay attention.
To give more.
To make, and take, the time for others.
Which brings me to the second lesson I relearned this month.
Lesson No. 2: Family Matters. Always.
Yup, that's us, all 23 of us some four days before Christmas.
As a family we celebrate the birthdays of each month over a Sunday dinner, those living nearby joining in person most months, with those out-of-state joining over Zoom to sing an irreverant and cacophonous version of Happy Birthday to the celebrant(s).
It's loud and crazy and my wife out-does herself with her meals and desserts, every single time.
But it's family.
And it's important to help keep us all knitted together, differences notwithstanding.
In a similar yet different vein, we try to get together for a combo family vacation every other year, even if it's just for a few days, as it was this month.
But let's be clear about this: When Momma P started talking back in the Spring about a family vacay this Winter, I was not a big fan, for several reasons:
- I tolerate Winter (at best): too much thin, California blood still coursing through my veins;
- The timing was gonna suck, being right before Christmas and all;
- It would be inconvenient/difficult, with two of our children and their families living out of state; and
- It was gonna be expensive (and it was, as AirBnB properties that can sleep at least 25 people do not come cheap, regardless of where you stay).
And yet ... you know what?
Momma P was right.
Getting together, even for just two-and-a-half-days in the middle-of-nowhere Utah, was infinitely worth it.
- Laughing together.
- Eating together.
- Playing together.
- Discussing life together.
Just. Being. Together.
Look ... life isn't perfect for anyone, even if their social media sharings suggest otherwise.
Regardless of fancy trappings or prestigious titles or fancy cars or wealth (newfound or old school), what really matters can be summarized in one word: FAMILY.
And that means family by birth and/or by choice.
And that includes personal and professional.
As I write this column, this opinion piece, it's the last day of 2021.
And for anyone who is not clinically insane, it's clear that these past two years have been Nutzo – both literally and figuratively:
- From divisive political/cultural divides to a global pandemic, and
- From an economic shutdown/reversal to a growing set of bad actors on the global stage.
And yet, through it all, as I look forward some 365 days, and beyond, I am reminded of these three things:
- Family matters, and
- Friends matter, and
- How you treat both really makes a difference, for better or worse.
So ... although I didn't begin this process as an exercise in public disclosure of my New Year's Resolutions, I suspect that that is, in fact, what I have done.
And in that regard, I invite you to do the same – to look inward, to introspect, and to identify at least one improvement you can make in 2022.
For me, it's simple:
both personal and professional.
Taking and spending more time with the members of both parties, and helping and making a difference wherever and however I can.
So ... from the heart of the "state" of Silicon Slopes, I extend my fondest wishes that you, our readers, will have a fantastic 2022, both personally and professionally.
I also hope that you too will find a way make a difference in the life of at least one other person in the coming year.
All the best,