The title describes exactly what I want to do. Two years ago today a young man who has left an undeniable mark on many lives, was taken home by his Heavenly Father. Why God decided Alex needed to go so soon, I honestly have no idea. But the impact he made and the lives he touched in his short time here, is undeniable.
Now I realize, as I hope you do, that Facebook is a poor measure of reality. But I could not help but noticed as I pulled up my home page today, the number of statuses reading something to the affect of "Alex, we love and miss you, RIP." Obviously everyone put their own twist and touch on it, but that was the sentiment. How does one person touch so many?
Part of it was simply a function of his personality. The dude was a show-off. And he was good at it. He loved attention, he loved the spotlight, and more than that, he loved to make people laugh and have fun. Making people smile was something Alex absolutely excelled at. And his own smile was nothing short of infectious. Sometimes out of the blue I will think of him laughing and I can't help but smile as I think about it.
This perhaps is one of the greatest lessons he taught me. How to relax and have fun. Anyone who knew me a few years ago can probably attest to the fact that I would not be accurately described as necessarily fun or fun loving most of the time. I'm more of the depressing, kill joy, let's-not-do-anything-too-stupid kind of guy. Alex liked to stretch that. Stretch could at times have been an understatement. And it was good for me. And his sense of humor could absolutely murder the bad moods I worked so hard to stay in.
I honestly sometimes look back and question why we were friends. We didn't have a ton in common, in much of any sense. We had totally different families, interests, and personalities. But we clicked for some reason, and looking back at that time in my life, I am very thankful for a friend who I could not only be real with, but who would straight up call me out when I needed it. Those people are rare.
I have a lot of memories of Alex, obviously. But one memory that I haven't shared with much of anyone, one that I think gives a very clear picture of Alex and the kind of guy he was is this. We were over at Creation at the Gorge. My Dad's step-mom lives in Quincy, just a few miles away, and Dad wanted me to visit her while I was over there-not possible if I rode the SLY bus over. However, I didn't have a road worthy vehicle at the time. So I was talking to Alex, and we decided to cruise his Honda over, with me driving since his license was suspended. So we go over (despite doing 90-110 most of the way, the bus beat us over because we stopped in Ritzville and Alex talked to the guy working the night shift for close to an hour). I grabbed my brother Garth in between concerts one day and tell him we're going to see grandma and Alex hops in the car. I asked him if he really wanted to go meet my fam. Okay, I less asked and more just tried to convince him he didn't-I love my family, but they're just a little different. The whole Jeff Foxworthy, "Everybody's family is crazy" thing is just a little extra true for my family. However, he was undeterred. So we get to Grandma's house and what I expected to be a quick 15 minute, "how ya doing, love ya, bye", turned into a two hour conversation. Not because I was talkative, but because Alex had decided Grandma was the coolest lady ever and kept on talking until she had to leave. Here I was, not hardly wanting to spend time with my own family, and Alex is interested and engaged in conversation with someone who, to him, was a complete stranger. That's something he understood very well. People matter. I think we all could learn from that.
I think-no, I know-Alex would have been laughing at me on August 20th of last year. That was the day I married my beautiful wife, Andie. I had been talking to her for a few months when he died. We were out at the casino eating dinner one night and he asked what I thought of her, how old she was, if I thought the relationship would go anywhere, and how tall she was. You know, the usual. But when I said yeah, I thought it could go somewhere, and then later told him she was just over 5 feet tall, he started busting out laughing. Apparently, all the times I'd given him crap about being short had cut a little close to home for him, and he was quite excited at the prospect of me having a short wife and kids. Yeah, he's probably sitting in heaven right now chuckling over that one.
All of this is just my way of saying what everyone else is saying- I love you buddy, and I miss you. I miss you a lot. I think of you every time I see a football, a basketball, Blue Moon, or deep fried chicken strips. And I laugh when I think about 4 am oil changes, driving over ramps, over-tipping baristas, trying to figure out how to put beds together, and my amazing ability to miss a lead blocker all the way to the end zone. Most of the end there will seem like gibberish to most people, but that's okay. It wasn't written for them. Peace.