Someone dear to me, and even more dear to several of my friends, passed away a few days ago at the shockingly young age of 40. In the midst of this awful, awful tragedy, I think it's natural to ask (scream, more like) the question 'Why?'. Why does something this unfair, this brutal, happen to someone so good? Being someone who thinks too much, this question has been going round my mind; but for now I want to pay my own little tribute to my friend, whom I'll call Phoebe (although I expect most folks reading this will know who I mean).
I didn't actually know Phoebe all that well, but many of my good friends did and they are just devastated. It seems she was loved and cherished by all who knew her, whether as close friends, workmates or neighbours. Phoebe was known to many in her community, partly because she was involved in running some community activities and also through having children at the local school. I've heard that even people who only had a passing acquaintance with her were in tears at the news of her death. What a legacy.
All this outpouring of grief and the sense of loss makes me wish I knew Phoebe better and reminds me powerfully of a talk I heard at a church meeting recently. The key message from the talk was that we should value eternal things (like people) over temporary things (possessions, status, power and so on); making that which is temporary the servant of that which is permanent. It's like that famous quote: 'Nobody's last words are that they wished they'd spent more time in the office.' Our final thought is not going to be about that car we decided not to buy, or that extra work that we turned down...
So I'm going to redouble my efforts to spend more time with people. People are amazing. I can't know everyone, obviously, not even everyone in my church. But I can spend more time – and better-quality time – with my friends and family; I can also take more opportunities to get to know new people. It's not always my favourite option but it's the better option, I think. Because people are amazing.