Since Sunday, I've spent a good deal of time reflecting about the trajectory of my life so far and what the next twenty years or so might bring. Events and insights of the past week, particularly, have led me in this direction.
On Sunday, I learned that a longtime friend, a man who was an important part of my life for many years in Colorado, has been forced to go to an assisted living facility because of the debilitating effects of Parkinson's Disease. He's been living with PD for several years, gradually losing his strength, his coordination, and some of his cognitive abilities. I last saw him about three years ago when I visited Colorado to preach at my home church there and was dismayed by how disabled he'd become.
This is a man whose companionship and love I have cherished for many years, a banjo player, a man whose journey in recovery was an inspiration to me and helped me find my own way in a 12-step program, a die-hard conservative whose fears often came between us but which we managed to navigate without too much trouble, a man of integrity and hope who once wrote a note to the singer Tom Paxton for public criticisms of Dan Quayle---and got a courteous note back from Paxton. A kind man, a loving man, a funny man, a fearful man, a very dear man, a man who hurt me and whom I hurt as well, but a man who has stayed in my heart all these years, even so.
He is clearly approaching the end of his life; part of it has already ended, with his having to give up so much independence. It has made me think about how lives end and how little we can do to prepare for our lives' ending, except to be open to the changes and find meaning in them.