Friday, September 9, 2011

As Time Passes

It is now a year ago today that my friend Jim Durkin passed. The year leading up to his death was a walk that was not easy for anyone involved. A small group of people came together to get it covered.

I realized it was the day when we were watching Good Morning America this morning. They were discussing the coming ceremonies in two days, and I realized that it was the 9th of September. There were reports of new threats targeting American soil as we near the 10th anniversary of the Towers coming down in New York City.

That morning ten years ago Jim and I were on the phone all morning in disbelief as we watched the second plane hit the second tower in real time on television. Jim used to work for American Airlines and had his own perspective to add to the horror of what was happening live before our eyes as the stories of the airplanes began to unfold.


Jim passed on September 9th of last year. I guess if you live long enough and are willing, you will be at someone's bedside caring for them through to the end. There are piles and rooms and mailboxes full of stuff to handle even after the person dies. It took about a year, though the 'estate' was miniscule, to clean up and put to rest all the stuff.

I have come across more pictures of times we spent together in France. This portrait we displayed at his memorial was a sketch of him done by a street artist. When Danielle made a trip with me to Paris we both had ours sketched in front of Notre Dame. I can still hear his animated travelogues of historical points during our long walks through the city and French countryside. He loved to share stories with visitors. Indeed, my life was so enriched by him. He was more my brother than my own siblings.

As his health deteriorated he could still manage to get out to have meals at our home or restaurants. I recall one night when he came to dinner with his visiting New York cousin that he announced he wanted to eat early (not in character with his typical late arrivals), went over afterwards and laid on the couch, and soon after asked his cousin to take him back to the nursing home. Come to find out later, he left because he thought he was going to die on our couch and did not want the grandkids to have to remember that. In a way, if you knew Jim, that was tender and hilarious at the same time. He did always like to be the center of attention, and did not like it so much when a grand child of ours would steal center stage. But at this particular juncture he did not want to have the focus be on him if it meant dying in our living room with the family around.

As time passes our memories are bittersweet, and the stories shared are precious; even of the ones that were horrendous as we walked through them. A small group of people bonded and were able to get to know one another. There were 'spokes' of people that never touched except when we came together because of Jim's illness and death.

We do not know the number of our days. Surely the folks trapped in the towers did not expect such a day when they went to work. It is enough to stay in the day, and one will come be your last. As our pastor reminds us, 1 out of 1 of us dies. How will we run our individual races?

I hope that Christ will continue to be more and more at home in my heart. (Eph 3:17). I want to be mature and act maturely so that my character reflects Christ. I fall short, but I keep at it. We must encourage each other to love God and one another.

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