|Me and my Dad|
I've always known I wouldn't live to see 30. That firmly held belief at the back of my mind has been the longest-standing effect of my father's death. Sure, he had lived to 32, but he also finished the New York Marathon the previous year. The chances of me finishing a marathon are about as good as the Pirates winning the pennant, so I knocked off two years (I'm quite the armchair actuary). While such an outlook on life may seem morose, I never thought so. To me, it was just a fact to be dealt with, and I dealt with it by packing as much life as I possibly could into an abbreviated lifespan. I first piloted a plane at age 14, and had soloed one by 15. I enrolled in my first college math course at age 16, and by 17 I was studying full-time at the university, sacrificing the fun that accompanies high school senioritis. I was engaged by age 19, and by 21, I had graduated from university, gotten married, went on a honeymoon, moved 600 miles away from home, started my career, and purchased my first house (5 of those 6 events all occurred within a period of 6 weeks). I travel to new, exciting places as often as possible, I have a life insurance policy 5 times the size the average for my age so my wife won't have to worry, and I share everything I own with my friends because I'm keenly aware my stuff has an ever-approaching expiration date.
|Getting married, exactly one month after turning 21|
|Me in my natural habitat|
|Anything Chrysler touches turns to crap|
Somehow, Chris is making it all a little easier. As the CFO & COO all-in-one at the company we’re acquiring, he’s run a damn good business. Yet he’s been a team player from the start, acknowledging the great potential of what our companies can only achieve if we are combined. I’ve been astounded by his willingness to sacrifice his autonomy, his title, and his position atop the food chain, all for the good of the business. He’s always quick to provide any needed information and constantly offers up fresh ideas for success. We ensured he would stay on after the deal was finalized because we know with him at the helm, our little marriage is bound for greatness, standing in stark contrast to all of the acquisition failures of the past.
|Sharing laughs on the day we signed the acquisition|
However, what makes Chris truly unique is his ability to form friendships. He took a genuine interest in me on a personal level from the beginning, and we became fast friends. Chris always has a way of making integration meetings less stressful and more enjoyable by bringing up our shared love of motoring and lightening the mood with his quick wit. We laugh heartily over dinners, even debating the nuances of African Cameroon versus Connecticut Shade cigar wrappers. He noticed I always wore french cuff shirts, and knows of my affinity for firearms, so one day upon my arrival at the office, he handed me a gift: cufflinks made from genuine .40 cal casings. His thoughtfulness bowled me over, and I’m still trying to figure out how to thank him properly.
Last night I received a tragic call - Chris had died, suffering a massive heart attack at a very young age. I spent all of last night and most of today trying to wrap my head around it, to no avail. I'm trying to pick up the pieces of our business and figure out what it means to be a leader in this kind of situation, but I have no answers. I miss my friend. I wish I could pull an anecdote from the Bible to make everything feel better, but I can't.
I went to the gym today for the first time in a long time, thinking that if I just tried a little harder, perhaps I'd be able to thwart the disease that took the lives of my father and my friend. Yet as I lifted weights until my skin turned as red as a Maine lobster and swam laps until I wheezed like an 80 year-old smoker, I couldn't help but think my efforts were in vain. I realized my lust for greasy foods and my irrational desire to cram 70 years of life into 30 were merely symptoms of a greater problem - I am a broken man living in a fallen world. I may eventually obtain a body figure I can be proud of, and maybe I'll even manage to cross everything off my bucket list before the undertaker shows up at my door, but I don't think there's anything I can do to actually save myself.
My mind keeps going to a line from a song written by Bebo Norman following the death of one his friends: "'Cause 'it was not your time' that's a useless line; a fallen world took your life." Whether Chris died yesterday or 30 years from now, it would've caused the same amount of pain for his loved ones. It's not an issue of timing, it's an issue of living in a fallen world that isn't as it was meant to be. Creation is beautiful and good, but it has run amok and is in decay. And there's nothing I can do to stop it.
Tonight, I cling to the hope that this is temporary. I long for the day when things are returned to the way they're meant to be. Tonight, my soul cries out for restoration.
What I'm Listening to During This Post: