“Hey, want to go to a wedding with me next weekend?” asked my new boyfriend of one month. His friend Rob was getting married in Raleigh, a city I hadn’t yet visited in my new homestate.
“Sure,” I said, always up for an adventure. “Isn’t it a little late to RSVP?”
“Oh it’s fine, they’re pretty laid back.”
And that is how I met Rob and Jacelyn. These two kind souls were instrumental in helping my boyfriend start his life over after a particularly ugly divorce. Rob and my boyfriend were friends and Jacelyn was like an older sister, disapproving of his idiot girlfriends and making sure he was safe after a night of partying. Their wedding was gorgeous. A simple backyard ceremony, complete with a large tent and the rain didn’t even phase the bride, she was too happy. You could feel the love they shared in the air.
Two years later, the boyfriend became my husband. They were at our wedding too.
We got together a few times over the years, as they have family here in Wilmington, but it wasn’t often. Once they had kids, we rarely saw them. We often joked about their “pool parties,” where a bunch of friends gathered to hold the above ground pool lining as it filled. There was no swimming. Everyone stood around drinking beer, but still a great time.
Last time we saw them was just after Hurricane Florence in 2018. Their church had a big drive for supplies to send to Wilmington, so we drove up there, eager to get out of town. We loaded up our car to the gills with everything from washing detergent to diapers. Our church was distributing it to families in need. We had lunch at their house and it was a fun visit. Their kids were really cool, too, just like their parents.
“I really miss you guys,” Rob said. “We need to get together again soon.” We all agreed.
But you know how it goes – life gets busy and the months slowly become years. Still, my husband kept up with them on Facebook. He made a lasagna last week, inspired by Jacelyn’s lasagna post.
The phone rang and it was my husband. I figured he was calling to vent about work when I picked up.
I heard a sob. “I just got a phone call.”
That’s never a good sign.
“Died? From what?”
“Major organ failure.” Another sob.
“From what?” Normal forty-somethings don’t just keel over from major organ failure without cause.
“He was sick for a couple of weeks and then….” his voice trailed off.
I was dumbfounded. Why Rob? Rob was one of the sweetest souls, a man of Christ who actually lived it, not just on Sundays. He was the ultimate family man. He’d give you the shirt off his back. Not Rob. Not now. No.
My heart broke for Jacelyn. And the kids. And Rob’s parents. Once again I was reminded this life isn’t fair.
It isn’t fair at all.
We always seem to go to friends’ weddings in this season of life; we never think of going to their funerals.
My grandfather, who died at 100, often lamented he was sick of losing friends – often twenty years younger than him – to death because they were old. When my friends leave, it’s because they move or get bogged down with life, yet I can still contact them. I’ve never lost a friend to death.
But Rob is gone forever.
In my limited human scope of the matter, this doesn’t feel right. Rob had so much more living to do. Jacelyn needed him. His kids needed him. His family needed him. His church needed him. The world needed him.
And we’re just left to mourn.
This was yet another reminder that tomorrow is not promised to us, nor does the Lord make it so that everyone dies in their 90’s in their sleep, after a strong and healthy life. It is so much more nuanced. And the crazy part is He made it like that. For me, I’ll never quite understand why He made it that way.
As I look to the future that may or may not be mine, I’m reminded the quality of life is so much more important than the big paycheck, crazy amounts of stress, and the rat race that comes along with it. As my husband and I plod forward, we find ourselves pulling back from the cultural benchmarks.
I am indeed thankful for my quiet life. Rob’s passing was another reminder of how short and unfair this life is. The moment to live life to it’s fullest is now.
Here’s to honoring the Lord with all the days I have left.