Jay.

This past week I lost a dear friend. His name is Jay.

His passing wasn’t expected. He was driving home after work when debris came through his windshield and killed him instantly. The news was as staggering as the way he passed. It doesn’t seem possible that a peer is gone. Life isn’t supposed to progress this way. We had hoped to grow old together and spend time with our families, children and (hopefully) grandchildren.

Fortunately, I was able to travel out of town to participate in his visitation and funeral service. That meant the world to me because Jay was one of my closest friends on the planet. I was one of the people asked to share at his service and it was the most challenging speech I’ve ever given. I’ve been fortunate to speak in front of thousands of people at a time, and that was easier than this.

When I was putting my remarks together, there were tears mixed with laughter. Jay was one of the smartest people I’ve every known – literally. He was a PhD scientist who did research to try to help cure cancer. He was a model husband and father who loved them with his life, his time and his focus. He only ever said kind and positive things about them. Jay and I could “nerd out” together while enjoying conversations ranging from the genius of Monty Python to the deep meaning of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and movies.

Our families literally grew up together through the birth of our kids until now some 20+ years. We’ve laughed together, worshiped together, camped together and shared many other experiences. I saw Jay every week for the 13 years we lived in the same city. His job took him to Illinois and finally Wisconsin, but we never grew apart.

The greatest thing I can share about Jay is that he made an eternal impact on my life. Now that he’s gone, I feel that impact even more. Jay literally took in every aspect of life. He didn’t miss a thing. He was very observant and it was a joy to be with him on hikes out on a trail because you’d experience the fullness of nature instead of hurrying to get your number of steps in.

Jay also did this with the people in his life. He never missed a person and made sure to get to know you and interact with you. Ironically, he was a quiet, humble man who would meet you with ease versus bravado. He listened to your stories and laughed often !!

His life is a reminder and an example for me and for others. In today’s world everyone seems to be consumed with politics and taking sides or the misadventures of celebrities we will probably never meet in person. I would challenge you to get out of these constant distractions and look at the people you encounter every. day.

That is where we can leave a mark. You see, you leave an impact every time to you interact with others. You just need to choose if that will be a positive impact or a negative one. Either way, it will happen. I choose to be like Jay and pour into the lives of all the people who cross my path. Intentionally meeting them and seeing who they are and what their life is like. It matters.

One of the final experiences I had in person with Jay that left an impact on us both was seeing U2 live in Chicago at Soldier’s Field with two more best friends. We took in every note and sang every lyric. It was another lifelong memory as every one was with Jay. He loved U2 just as we all did, and still do.

I’ll leave you with one of their songs, Grace, which has a lyric which says “Grace finds goodness in everything.”

That was Jay. I loved my friend and miss him immensely. I know we’ll see each other again some day, and it will be just as wonderful as it has been for all these years.

19 thoughts on “Jay.”

  1. So sorry for your lose Steve. Sounds like your friend was a very great person. Prayers are with you and all his family and friends.
    Love,
    Aunt Nancy and Uncle Paul

  2. It’s sounds as though Jay lived each day as the only one guaranteed. God bless Jay and his family. God bless you, Steve, and yours.

  3. Steve, this is such a beautiful tribute to someone who was clearly a special human! I am so sorry for this loss of a friend and wish you all the peace and strength you need as you work through it. XO

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss, Steve! Thanks for sharing. I feel as though I get to know Jay a little bit through you sharing this. He sounded like a wonderful guy. Thoughts and prayers go out to you and his family.

  5. Steve, thank you for sharing this heartfelt tribute to your dear friend. It makes me weepy to think you’re hurting, as clearly so many others that knew Jay are. The promise of everlasting life is so comforting. Wishing you comfort in this time of sincere mourning. Thank you for the reminder of our impact on others.

  6. I’m sorry to hear about the passing of your friend, Jay. What a great tribute and a reminder to us all to cherish our relationships with family and friends and create as many memories as possible with them. May Jay Rest In Peace.

  7. Steve, so sorry to read about the loss of your friend. How wonderful that you had him in your life and chose to share about him with all of us. Thank you.

  8. So sorry to hear of this loss. You and Jay’s family will be in my thoughts and prayers. I always say that if, after your passing, people remember and speak of you fondly, then you are not truly gone.

  9. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend Jay. Your tribute to him honors him and your friendship beautifully. The fact that you shared with all of us, who actually have been inspired by you, is a gift! This post is one of the many ways that I have been inspired by you. You willingness to share speaks volumes to who YOU are. Thank you!

  10. I’m so sorry about Jay. Your tribute to him, and message to all of us, is beautiful. ((Hugs)) my friend.

  11. May we all have a friendship like yours with Jay! You’ve spread that joy to everyone through this story. Thank you for sharing your memories of him with all of us.

  12. So sorry for your loss, Steve. What a beautiful way to honor a great friend by reminding all of us to positively impact those around us. Thank you for sharing something so profoundly personal.

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