Loss Rattles Your Cage For a Reason
There’s something inside that needs to be shook loose.
The first time I met Shawn in person was on Christmas Day in 2017. I was fresh out of my divorce and had gone out to see some live music. A small local venue has bands play every year on Christmas night. I felt a little lost and needed the comfort of friends. I knew I could find that.
Shawn and I got to know each other in a rather unusual way. It was because of a tweet.
Jason Isbell is right. Shawn and I love Isbell. We both commented on the tweet, got into a discussion and realized we lived in the same town and that we had friends in common. A friendship was born.
When I went to the show on Christmas, we recognized each other. We had many common interests, namely local music and good wine. I spent some time on the patio that night with him and his friend Rob.
We talked about the wine we had stored away and that we should get together to share the good stuff. The irony of the conversation hit me later when I realized who his friend was. He was Robin Wilson. The lead singer of the Gin Blossoms, who recorded “Hey Jealousy.” They were roommates in college.
We never drank the bottles of wine we talked about. Mine’s still in my wine fridge. Shawn passed away Friday.
I’m overwhelmed with a sense of loss. To know Shawn, to spend five minutes with him, was to love him. He was a gentle, kind, funny and remarkable soul.
Shawn was the third of the three friends I would lose this week. One was the wife of a groomsman from my second wedding. One was a friend from a leadership program, Bill, who I didn’t even know he was sick.
Let that sink in. I didn’t even know he was sick. I wasn’t paying attention.
Life goes in cycles. We all come to a point where we start to lose our friends and our family. I am lucky to have gone through most of my life unaffected by death. It’s stayed far away. It feels much closer to home now.
Death rattles your cage. It shakes the bars and tries to jar you loose. If you’re smart enough, the door rattles open so you can find your way out. My door is open.
I have missed opportunities that I wish I had back. But, I am learning to say yes much more often. To some it may look like I’m staring down the barrel of a mid-life crisis, and maybe I am. I just don’t want to find myself, 30 years from now, staring down an end of life crisis.
It has never been more apparent to me that time is nothing more than where the watch hands rest right now. It doesn’t move counterclockwise. Our lives don’t either. I want to move in the direction of the hands but only one tick at a time.
Life is as deliberate as we make it. We have the freedom to live as well and as fully as we decide to. The level of freedom is based on the level of our courage. I want to be courageous. I’m not going back in that cage.