A short message today…

I lost a dear friend this past weekend. Don Michelson was 81 years old, and passed away in his sleep. 6 years ago, his son, Mark (my closest friend), passed away in front of me at the age of 41.

Of course, I grieve for the loss of each of these men, but I carry with me two lessons today:

First, gratitude. I am grateful for the time I spent with Mark and Don. I remember both of their kind smiles and all the wonderful stories both shared with me. I cherish every memory I have of these two fine men. I spent countless hours on the mats training martial arts with Mark, and was already very fond of his parents, Don and Marie. When Mark died, Don and Marie and I fell into a natural rhythm of sharing time together. I think for all of us it kept us a bit closer to our shared memory of Mark. Over the last few years, we became quite close, and I learned that Don and Marie had enjoyed a life – like most people – filled with successes and sorrows. Don always impressed me with the happiness he drew from the joys of life, and how little of the sorrows stuck to him after the initial grief passed. The lesson here: be grateful for what you have – start each day with a moment of gratitude.

As I exercised this morning, thinking through what I was grateful for, and thinking about Mark and Don, I added one more thought. I am grateful that I am still alive, and I still have time to share with others. And that led me into the second lesson…

Second, urgency. Aside from having lost a dear friend when Don died, I have a second sadness in this passing. A couple of years ago, Don started writing a book about his experience as an advertising professional in downtown Manhattan. His career spanned the time supposedly covered by the show “Mad Men”, but his stories revealed an entirely different world. I had so looked forward to reading his book, and knew that others would enjoy this intimate look at a piece of history, learning a bit about business and a lot about life from Don. Unfortunately, Don had put the book down several months ago, and never got around to finishing it. Now, none of us will ever get to hear the rest of that story. The lesson here for all of us: don’t hold back – share what you have with the world today!