His golden locks Time hath to silver turn’d; O Time too swift, O swiftness never ceasing! His youth ‘gainst time and age hath ever spurn’d, But spurn’d in vain; youth waneth by increasing: Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen; Duty, faith, love, are roots, and ever green. From George Peele’s Sonnet: A Farewell To Arms, 1590

Death, time and tide claimed yet another dear friend this past week. At 6:15 pm Wednesday evening to be exact. A person I’ve always referred to as “my brother from another mother”, one Michael Brock, otherwise known as Mike. Given a window of three weeks from the attending doctor, he braved it to the end, and passed peacefully at home comforted by his family. Seems the older you get the more instances like this occur much more frequently than in times past, and comes on the heels of the passing of my late uncle Jack back on January 22nd., one week after I arrived in Britain. The fact that Mike left this world on June 22nd, exactly five months later has its own spiritual significance for those who are familiar with E.W. Bullinger’s Number In Scripture (link available at the bottom). So I would like to share with you some of the lessons that have stuck with me the most in honoring the memory of Mike and his life well-lived.

1. Life is a gift.
Many of us take for granted that we’ll wake up healthy in the morning until we have a reason to believe otherwise. Tomorrow is never guaranteed to anyone, young or old. Today could be the last time you see or talk to your loved ones, which is why you mustn’t wait. Do it today, in case tomorrow never arrives. Don’t be sorry you wasted the opportunity today to give a smile, a hug, an arm around the shoulder to someone who really needed that little act of kindness. Keep your loved ones near to your heart. Tell them in their ears and to their faces how much you need them. Love on them and treat them well. Take the time to tell them “I’m sorry”, “forgive me”, “please”, “thank you”, and all those loving words you know. It can seem like such a cliché to keep repeating that life is a gift, but no moment beyond this one is ever guaranteed. We can lament the challenges we face in life, or we can remind ourselves that we’re fortunate we’re here, right now, capable of growing through them. Mike instinctively lived his life under this golden rule.

2. Kindness and strength can go hand in hand.
In all the years of our friendship, I never heard Mike say a bad word about anybody, and he never would bring himself to deceive anyone in any way. We were both of the same mind to say always what you feel, not what you think. To all men I would say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, when the true fact of the matter is that they grow old when they stop falling in love. And that means with everything and everybody, not just with beautiful women. I give merit to things not for what they are worth, but for what they mean to express. I would dream more, but I know that for every minute that we close our eyes, we waste 60 seconds of light. I would walk while others stop. I would awake while others sleep. It’s possible to be both gentle and strong. That the opposite of aggressive isn’t always passive. That there can be power in peace.

3. Love is a verb.
Writing this is both difficult and easy. During our last conversation one week ago today, we both struggled with the difficulty of the topic. Difficult for the obvious reasons, yet easy because Mike embodied every positive quality you could name. Kind, compassionate, generous, and understanding to a fault, he always took care of the people around him. If I knew that today for instance, this would be the last time that I’d ever see you again, I would hug you with all my strength and I would pray to the Lord to let me be the guardian angel of your soul. If I knew that these would be our last moments together, I would say “I love you”. It sounds like such a simple formula, and it truly is. It doesn’t have to be money, but giving—of our time, our attention, and ourselves—which is the greatest display of love. Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today, because tomorrow isn’t promised. Even on the phone.

4. Happiness is appreciating what you have.
Mike didn’t require lots of money, a big fancy house, or expensive trinkets. As long as the people he cared about surrounded him, he felt rich and blessed. Happiness isn’t about wanting more. It’s about truly enjoying what you have. I have learned that when a newborn baby holds with its little hand, his father’s finger, it has trapped him for the rest of his life. I have learned that a man has the right and obligation to look down at another man, only when that man needs help to get up from the ground. Nobody will know you for your secret thought. Ask the Lord for wisdom and strength to express them. Show your friends and loved ones how important they are to you. People who want more are never happy—even when they get everything they ever dreamed of having.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man  is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. ~ John Donne, No Man is an Island, Meditation XVII, 1624

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5. It is what it is – Deal with it.
So today I’d like to leave you with the greatest lesson learned from being around my “brother from another mother” over the past 27 years …

  • Look around and see what’s precious.
  • Clear your head of all the little things that won’t matter down the line.
  • When you’re looking back at all the times you cherished the most in life, find a reason to make this moment one of them.
  • Let yourself truly enjoy the experience of doing it.
  • A life well loved is a life well lived.
  • This is our time to do it.
    Mike and Melanie...

    Mike & Melanie forever smiling .. RIP brother

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    So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom ~ Psalm 90:12

    References: Psalm 90; E.W.Bullinger:Number In Scripture; Matthew 24:44-47; Marty Goetz; Luke 12:42-44;

    Face of Jesus by Richard Hook

    Soli Deo Gloria!