Last weekend I got news that a very close friend of mine had passed.
The news threw me off. I didn’t know how to handle it. It seemed completely unreal to me. I was really saddened by his passing and I was flooded with all kinds of thoughts, memories and ‘what if’s’ for the next few days.
My emotions were all over the place.
For the last week or so I have been adjusting to this news in whatever way it seems to make its way through me.
My friend was such a gentle soul that had been through a lot himself. He was one of those guys that naturally always tries to understand others, even if he had never met you. He always tried to look from your perspective.
I remember when I was first starting my coaching business in 2014, there were times when I would get discouraged or confused. He would see that without me ever telling him.
He would take me to the golf course or for a hike and tell me these real in depth stories about Muhammad Ali and his insights, and Bruce Lee and his teachings, or how nature just seems to correct itself if we can only continue playing the game.
He would bring things back into perspective so quickly in a subtle and inspiring way.
I’m learning so much about myself during this last week and I continue to learn as each day goes by.
Some of the things I have learned this week are...
... you’re NOT supposed to know how to handle it.
... there is no order in what you feel next.
... stay with the present feeling no matter how uncomfortable it is or how much it hurts.
... you will think thoughts that are unhelpful. They’re not relevant. And there’s no need for you to push them away.
... no matter how grounded, clear or strong you are, you will NEVER EVER know how you will react when someone dies, until they do.
... treat yourself with extra care then you usually do.
... be kind to yourself. Consciously.
... cry. Don’t hold back. Cry.
... don’t try and understand your feelings. Instead, FEEL them.
... when you are mourning, NOTHING is more important than your emotional health. .
... you are always ok underneath it all, so give yourself ENTIRELY to your emotions.
... read ALL the messages you receive from your friends... carefully.
... embrace the LOVE you are being offered.
... don’t try and make logical sense out of an emotional process.
These are not things I have done myself this week. These are things I have only learned in reflection. The learning comes to me as I continue letting the process take its course.
I want to share one more memory I have about my friend.
See, my friend really had a knack for seeing people as if they were already happy, and he would spend all his time with you trying to remind you of that in ordinary, obvious, and humorous ways.
He never gave up on people.
This one time, we were walking down Granville Street on our way to meet others for a relaxing evening of tapas and drinks. He noticed an older lady very quietly crying on the corner of the street. She was so quiet no one would’ve guessed she was in distress... But he did.
So he walked over and started chatting with her. After about 30 seconds he signalled me over.
When I went over there, he told me to wait with her and ran off into the store nearby. He came back with a small grin on his face, a few sandwiches in his hand complaining about how they had no damn pickles. It made the lady smile. We then spend the next two hours hanging out with this woman, sitting on the pavement eating sandwiches and learning about each other.
We didn’t make it to tapas night, but we had the best night ever learning so much about her, about ourselves, and about life.
He loved seeing people win. He used to say that we are all already winning in so many ways, but we don’t notice it till someone comes and points it out to us.
He loved pointing that out in people.
I debated with him one time telling him it’s not about winning. It’s not a race. He looked at me and said.....
”Shenan, winning is not about achieving anything, that’s all made up stuff. Winning is only about recognition. The more we recognize, the more we win, and the more we help others recognize, the more they win. Everyone is only ever playing a game with themselves, not with others.”
I didn’t quite know what he meant by this at the time he told me, but those words always seem to ring a bell in my ear.
I sure didn’t feel like I was winning when I heard the news of his passing last weekend, but I’m starting to see that I was actually winning, because I had the privilege to know someone like him who helped me recognize myself over and over again.
Who knew I would be practicing his own teaching while mourning him.
To every single person that has reached out to me over the last week, thank you so very much. I’m grateful for all of your messages and they helped me more than I can describe.
And to my brother... until we meet again!