One of the most common ironic tags on social media as of late has been #blessed. For example, you walk down the street and notice a cloud in the shape of a rabbit #blessed or the barista at starbucks spells your name right #blessed. It has become a rather ironic way of describing a situation. However, I have begun to rethink how we look at blessed.
A few short weeks ago, I lost a very close friend from childhood. Grant was diagnosed at a young age with a rare, degenerative neurological disorder. Growing up with him, I got to know Grant very well and never knew much about his disease, but I believe this allowed me to look at Grant for who he was, rather than as a person who was suffering.
As I have been reflecting these last couple of weeks about Grant and his life, I have come to realize something, he was blessed.
If you had asked me if I thought that a few weeks ago, you would have seen quickly through my tears that I firmly disagreed with this idea. I spent multiple hours over the course of several days with one of the few people who had known Grant for as long as I had. One of my absolute best friends, Kaitlin, who also grew up with him and I met through Grant. We were in tears several hundred miles apart just repeating this sucks and how unfair it was.
I spent a great deal of time thinking that I was supposed to be sitting in that Church at Grant’s wedding, not his funeral. Our kids were supposed to play Little League together and eventually we would spend long afternoons on the golf course during our retirement. However, I saw those opportunities slide through my fingers like sand as we got older and his disease took stronger hold. We grew farther apart, but I never stopped loving and caring about him.
I was standing at the wake and everyone just kept saying how sad it was and how much it sucked, again reiterating the sentiments I had at first. The more I have pondered this though, the more I believe that Grant’s life is not to be mourned. He was truly blessed, far beyond that I could ever hope to be.
As people began to speak about Grant and the life he lived, the one theme that always crept up was his amazing attitude. Grant had a thirst for life and wanted to live as much life as he possibly could. He took tremendous joy in the smallest things. Grant taught me how to face the toughest difficulties with a smile on your face, I mean he was a Cubs fan afterall. He was blessed with cherishing the moments in life that really matter.
Grant did not have time to approach the world with cynicism and pessimism, he only had time to seek out the good. 23 years is not enough time to spend dwelling on your sorrow, but only time to spend seeking your happiness and finding joy. I still think of him every day and remember how fantastic of a person he was, but I keep coming back to what Grant would want.
Grant never sought pity and he would be mad if I put my life on hold mourning his loss. He would have, as a matter of fact, been embarrassed by the fuss we made. Grant most of all would have been upset that everyone was finishing their meals since he never really did. (I think that is how we first bonded, neither of us ever ate). He would demand that I continue to live my life and approach each day with a great attitude.
I sit and look at the things that frustrate me in a day and have to recalibrate myself to what would Grant do, how would Grant approach this. Grant has taught me to find joy in things like a child finds in bubbles, wonder and amazement at simplicity. He showed me how to smile without teeth and then again with teeth. He taught me so much about how to be a friend and how to continue seeking the best.
Yes, Grant’s life was cut far too short, but his life was far more blessed than most. May we all seek joy in the little things in the same way Grant did. I will close not with my traditional line, but with the last view lines of the prayer card at Grant’s funeral which I think says how I feel so much better.
Although we loved you dearly,
we could not make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating,
hard working hands at rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to us,
He only takes the best.
Grant truly was the best.