Sometimes you wish you would have never picked up the phone. To hear the words “Are you sitting down” strikes you down quicker than Darth Vader’s light saber in Star Wars.

“Jay died this morning”.

All of a sudden, my eyes wandered the scene painted before me in the Mission Beach parking lot and I wondered if I was going to throw up or cry. I began to notice the small simple things that were just one minute before a part of the background of the painting out my front car window. Little birds were hopping in and out of a puddle on the black asphalt in front of my car. The puddle may as well been comprised of the salty tears running down my face. I felt a wave of sorrow hit me harder than a wipeout at pipeline. As the sun was setting over the blue ocean in front of me, the sun was rising on my friend as he entered eternity and saw his Lord. My definition of a difficult week is such a joke.

I instantly began to wonder if I was a good enough friend. I doubted I did enough of the little things right to show him I truly cared. The birds continued to play, oblivious to the cloud of pain that encompassed my soul. The people gathered in the grassy park ready to embark on the routine Tuesday night run along the boardwalk like nothing had happened. Laughter filled the air as they breathed in and out and their hearts continued to pump blood through their bodies. I wonder if they realized what a blessing it was to be alive.

Watching his silver truck pull into the parking lot, I hoped I could maintain composure. I didn’t want to burden my running partner with the weight of my own sorrow. Of course sometimes you just need a friend to turn to in time of need. I am glad we were both men of faith, and I knew he would understand. I am doubly glad Jay was such an amazing believer before cancer took his life.

The sky was changing color.

My shoes were remarkably white.

We ran our run. We ran because we could. We ran to feel alive. We pushed our bodies to the brink of throwing up. It was all I could do to feel alive.

Later in the evening, my small group of fellow believers met and talked about the blessing of life. We all wondered how we would react at the news of a terminal illness. Would we quit our jobs and travel the world? Would we start riding our bikes across America until we fell off from sickness? Would we act as if nothing ever happened and just live out our routine lives?

Jay did none of the above. Jay smiled every day and just told us all that “God was good”. He loved his wife and two children with all of his 36 year old heart. He laughed, and prayed, and spoke of God’s mercy. Every now and again you could catch a glimpse of fear in his eyes at the unknown time of his calling, but it would quickly pass as his smile took over. He was an inspiration to us all.

To all of us who knew Jay, we understand what it means to have love. We understand how God can offer us incredible peace in the mist of trials. I am actually happy for him on the other side. The sunrises must be amazing in Heaven.

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