Breathing Life in, Not Ours to Claim

It overwhelms me how often life seems to take a turn that comes so unexpectedly.

and yet i wonder…why do I think i can anticipate any of the twists and turns ahead.

my dad’s father used to say ‘God willing’ when we talked about seeing each other again…or planning some event or action. and it used to bug me…it seemed like such a turn of phrase, easy to take on the end of a comment.

more recently i’ve got to thinking. Each breath, each moment is not our own. Our lives are not our own. The people in our families are not our own. Each part and parcel and minutiae of our lives are NOT our own, nor are they promised to us.

each moment is fleeting. there is never anyway to relive those moments, make that first impression again, take those words back, close your eyes to the pain you’re about to witness, wish you laughed more and were less serious…all those things are come and gone. there are moments…breathes, seconds that continue to await…

and i live like they are promised to me. that i’m guaranteed another one…and yet i know not the last breathe that will be mine to take.

this was brought so close to home when i found out about the death of my dear friend John.

i believe it was first semester at Redeemer that we first met. the schools Student Development area ran different seminars on the lunch hour break about different things, study habits, exam planning, etc. That particular one was about how to get yourself on a schedule of what needs to be done so that you won’t fall behind and procrastinate (well teach you how to NOT procrastinate).

anyway, i was the only one who showed up and so John said ‘this is a huge classroom, do you mind if we move to my office” and we did and while he taught me a great many things that day, we also began a conversation that would continue over days, months and even years of shared interests, heart issues, personal hangups, our relationship with the Lord and so many other little things that were so special to us.

in some sense John became a counselor of sorts in my life. I think at one point he said i was very much like him, only in female form…alot of the things he had tried to wrestle through about life or perhaps was still on the journey of figuring out were things that i often questioned myself. he would share quotes with me from books he’d read, fantastic movies that inspired him and music that made his soul sing and that he’d just discovered.

in some sense, i think it was more of a friendship, he was a brother along on the journey, a mentor helping my blinded eyes to have parts of their cataracts removed. opening my heart to what could be in life, in living, in fighting for the journey and for the truth and seeking and asking questions…

and one of the things that i loved most is that there was no question that was out of bounds. i didn’t talk about his wife or his family much…but i mean questions about life. nothing that i could have said would have caused him to banish me from his office…no struggle i was having, no words i’d spoken, no angst that i struggled with, would keep us from conversing. And i treasure that so much about our time together and the relationship that we had.

sometimes he said things that challenged my heart, that i wasn’t totally on key with…but i knew our journeys were our own. and i’d talk back and we’d discuss and we’d leave off letting the other believe as they did.

when school became too much for me and i had my breakdown he was one of the first people i spoke with. he helped me sort out my feelings of failure, of disappointment. he set up opportunities to take all kinds of tests that would help me see perhaps were my future education may be in the years after i was able to once again heal from the blow of not being able to finish the program.

the summer that i worked at Redeemer he shared his itinerary with me of where him and his wife had gone in NS, how amazing everything was and told me to share with my parents so much of what they’d love for their own trip. I remember taking time on my lunch break to go visit him so that i could explain it more in depth to them. he was so excited about the amazing little cultural moments they found, about the little off the beaten path music, art and housing they were able to find..and direct my parents in much the same way.

a couple of weeks ago it came to my mind that i hadn’t been in touch much with John at all this past year, perhaps last september but really i’d stayed silent all this time, and i should see how his year went…how things were progressing in his department and how he loved the kids he worked with.

i was actually looking up something else about Redeemer when my eyes fell on the phrase ‘Remembering John Kruegar” and i said ‘WHOA, wait a minute.’ my heart began to race, my eyes filled with tears and i clicked on the link and saw that indeed my dear friend had passed away suddenly, early in his 50’s …2 months ago and i had never known and probably would have NEVER known if i hadn’t of clicked on it.

my heart continues to mourn the loss of my dear friend…the loss of conversations that won’t be had, the laughs that won’t be shared, the heart stories that won’t be mentioned, music, stories and media that will no longer be discussed or perused. i know the Lord has him firmly in his embrace. I know that his wife and children mourn his loss sooo strongly. I know that the faculty are experiencing a large hole where John’s presence was.

Nothing is promised. No breathe or second of our life is ours to claim. And yet…i wish is so easy a thing to say.

i wish i could have had one last chat. that i could have said goodbye. i wish that he wasn’t gone so soon…in what time period i thought he should be here for and yet God knew would be his time set forth.

and so my dear, dear friend…

I miss you, and yet i know you are held tightly in HIS arms.

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