I remember it like it was yesterday. He was so excited. My friend, Greg, had just returned from the Boston Red Sox fantasy camp. He gave me blow-by-blow details of how he managed to pull something by diving for a ball hit by one of his heroes. He said the best part was sitting around with a couple of the retired players at day’s end just talking about their playing days.
As I made my way up to Fenway Park this week, I couldn’t help but have the feeling that Greg was with me. He loved the Red Sox as much as I love the Detroit Tigers. So when another friend gave me a ticket to go see the game between the two teams, I grabbed it and headed to Bean Town.
It turned out to be a doubleheader. As the first game got underway I noticed an empty seat next to me. It happened again in game two. I don’t think it was a coincidence. As the day progressed I felt Greg was with me. Although the Tigers took both games, I could hear him reminding me that they have four world championships since the Tigers last tasted the champagne.
Greg’s been gone almost six years now. He died much too young in a freak swimming accident. Yet, he lives on through the ripple effect of time. He comes to mind whenever I need to talk to someone about life and ministry. He and I used to sit on my front porch and talk about the challenges we had in our active churches. Inevitably, we’d slip into talk about sports or music or our families.
We all have those people who have touched our lives in deep and meaningful ways. When death rips them away from us a void is left behind that is not easily filled. I believe that’s where God’s grace comes in. We have been given the gift of memory. At the time of death it can seem like a curse because everything reminds us of what we’ve lost.
I don’t want to trivialize this but I’ve found that our memories come back to us as blessings in time. Certain places, smells, sounds and words can bring a person back to life in our mind’s eye. The old conversations, the time spent together may make our hearts ache at first. Soon that ache is replaced with the joy of reconnecting with our friends and loved ones.
The key to unlocking these good memories is to begin making them today. The Psalmist says that if you make the most of our days now, you will be blessed later. So don’t procrastinate. Tell your family and friends you love them. Invest time in your relationships. Sit and enjoy each other’s company. In doing so you’ll build a bridge to a happy future.
Easter assures us that there will be a resurrection day for all of us who believe. Our faith says that we will see our loved ones again. But in the meantime, go out and make some memories. Fill the loving cup until it pours over. Who knows? You just might get to spend a wonderful afternoon watching baseball with an old friend, even if it’s only in your mind.
The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Westerly.