Mike and I have known each other for 20 years. We became acquainted when our sons entered kindergarten together, and as the boys played soccer together, wrestled on park board teams and the highschool wrestling team together, Mike and I saw a lot of each other then, not so much now. We're not close, close friends, but good acquaintences nonetheless. During the kids' highschool years in particular, our families saw a lot of one another, and would occasionally socialize at one another's homes.
As the boys graduated high school and drifted apart into different lives, MIke and I saw less of one another, but when we run into each other at neighborhood festivals or political meetings, we always catch with 15 or 20 minutes of enjoyable talk.
Mike is a very devout Mennonite, which puts us on slightly different planets, me being a fallen Lutheran and mostly Buddhist these days. But for a strongly religious fellow, Mike never pushes his belief on others. And I admire the good quality of his life. MIke and his family host foreign visitors from Africa frequently. They travel to central America to do social work in depressed neighborhoods. MIke has also overcome some personal problems in an admirable manner. Mike is an all-around good guy, who has rightly earned the respect of others.
Last weekend Mike traveled up to Fargo to handle funeral arrangements for his father, who just passed away. One night he went out for a jog on the streets of Fargo, and a driver struck and killed Mike on a blind corner.
Mike was 53 years old, just months older than me. He leaves a wife and two sons, ages 23 and 18——exactly the same ages as my kids.
It was pretty somber at my house last night. My son was home, and he seemed especially quiet. We were all, in our own ways, reflecting on the fact that life is so precious, so fleeting, and so uncertain. I'm sure my son was thinking about his friend, imagining what it's like to lose a father so suddenly, so randomly.
If ever there was a fellow who deserved to live happily into decrepit old age, it was Mike. But there is nothing whatsoever fair or certain about life.
And so we must live it right now.