My friend and I had a bet that the first one to net $1 million in a single year – the other guy had to buy him breakfast. Twenty years later I bought him breakfast. Entrepreneur. “There’s always more money out there to be made,” he said. But he wasn’t greedy or materialistic.
We finished breakfast and he gave me a check for $10,000. I gave it to the Chalmers Center (an educational institute led by Brian Fikkert, author of When Helping Hurts). I introduced him to some of my other friends who lead nonprofits and he supported their work too.
My friend died last Thursday. Friday I flew out to Southern California, where he lived with his wife and kids.
The last time I was with him, about six months ago, we had breakfast at a place on Pacific Beach (San Diego). Afterward, I said I would drop him back at his house and then go to the airport but he said not to worry about it. He said he would run home (7 miles), and he did. He, in his mid-50s, was smart, fit, generous and running a prosperous company. Everything was possible for him. He was there for me in some key moments over the years, a good man.
Gall bladder cancer. Diagnosed six months ago.
I won’t write any cliches about making life count. But those cliches – carpe diem, be present, life is a gift – they’re true. I was at the ocean this morning, grieving quietly. Listening to the ocean rhythms, feeling as though they were washing time away. I love the smell of the salty air. Then dawn rose behind me and illuminated this Bougainvillea (featured photo). Its flare and resilience reminded me of him. Not all of us are Bougainvillea.
Some of us are like that succulent – Agave. Grows in harsh, dry conditions, doesn’t flower very often. But, you know, hanging in there.