The weather was beautiful, and it showed the city off well. We were staying in a hotel on the Willamette River. I could stand on the balcony of my room and watch people fish for Chinook salmon. In fact, there was a regular traffic jam of boats on the river. The hotel restaurant had a nice deck we could sit on and talk over our drinks while we watched the river. That was good for the soul.
But I was there for a very sad reason. A good friend of my family died unexpectedly at the end of February, and there was a service for him on Saturday. I am so sorry he is gone, but I am really glad I went to the service. He was a wonderful man, and the testimonials from his friends and family at the service made that abundantly clear. He was remembered as a man who helped others, and who made sure the people he cared about knew he cared about them. There were people at the service from all phases of his life, from childhood friends to recent colleagues. We all cried and laughed our way through stories about his strengths and his quirks.
He was not a young man, but he was not especially old, either. It felt very much like he was someone who died before his time here should have been done. Many of us talked about how this was a powerful reminder not to put off the things that matter. He had plans for travel that I wish he had gotten to fulfill, and no doubt many other great things he would have done if he had more time. But on the fundamentals, I think he succeeded in doing what matters in his life. When I saw him last (during our pre-Petunia Oregon vacation), he seemed genuinely happy with the life he had made. He liked his work. He loved his garden and his deck, and he enjoyed showing people around the city he had settled in. He liked to travel, and he saw a lot of places in his life. He was a wonderful father, husband, brother, son, and friend. I feel better for having known him. That is a pretty good legacy, really, and after listening to his oldest friends talk about him at the service, I think he has such a good legacy because he didn't put off the important things.
We none of us know how long we have. It is not especially profound to say it, but perhaps we all just need to be reminded now and then. Do what matters now.