Just a couple days ago, my good friend Lindsay died. Only 37. A married mother of two young boys. It was unexpected and tragic. Devastating to her family. A withering kick in the stomach to her many friends.
It doesn’t feel like nearly enough to simply mourn her loss and provide the support that we often do in the aftermath of a friend passing. What now?
Philosopher Karl Hopper, wrote: ‘All life is problem solving.’ His premise was that, throughout our lives, we navigate and, hopefully, learn from our challenges, both big and small.
So what did I learn from my friendship with Lindsay?
Friendships need to be nurtured.
The first couple of times that I ran across Lindsay, she gave me a fierce, squinty-eyed glare. In her defense, my standard appearance is slightly grumpy and expressionless. We were a good match. As time passed, we went from giving each other looks to looking forward to seeing each other. We grew to trust and appreciate each other. We shared our struggles, asked for advice and made each other laugh.
In retrospect, we both had every reason to take those first impressions as non-starters, but I’m so very happy that we did not. We put in the work and it was worth it.
Your past can be a springboard.
Everyone experiences challenges of different types during their upbringing. Some will forever point to these challenges as the reason for their shortcomings.
Others, like Lindsay, will not only persevere, but fearlessly strive to create a life that’s explicitly different. I’m privileged to have a number of brave friends who have demonstrated that you don’t need to be saddled by your past. You can use those experiences as the driving force toward a life that you dreamed of and hoped for. You can overcome and thrive.
There are few traits better than authenticity.
Let’s face it. We’re too often surrounded by people, politicians and personalities who are spouting all sorts of self-serving garbage. Their insincerity oozes from their pores. Their words are meant to influence your opinion of them, but their actions rarely match their bullshit.
When you run across someone as genuine as Lindsay, you’re very fortunate.
She gave you her honest opinion.
She loved it. She loathed it.
You should do this. You shouldn’t do that.
She challenged you to do better for yourself.
Then again, she often didn’t need to say anything. You could see it on her face. A roll of the eyes, the lifting of an eyebrow and a skeptical twist of her mouth. Or a bright smile, a sparkle in her eye and a subtle nod of approval.
She wanted what was best for you. Her compassion was real and she was brave enough to tell you what you needed to hear.
Find your community.
CrossFit is an exercise methodology, but, when listing the values that it provides, fitness would not be ranked near the top.
Of much higher value is finding a community of like-minded people that care about each other’s well-being. Sharing challenges and successes. Making memories together. Rallying around each other in times of need. Celebrating and grieving together. Extending a hand and pulling each other up.
Once again, in the aftermath of Lindsay’s passing, her community is coming together to brace each other and find a path forward. This is the true value of finding a community.
Run towards those with qualities you aspire to have yourself.
It’s suggested that you’re a product of those you spend the most time with. Therefore, you should pick your friends wisely and hope to absorb some of their awesomeness via osmosis.
I knew that I was improving myself by sharing time, experiences and conversations with Lindsay. She was determined but humble. She was fierce but compassionate. She was vulnerable but her bravery inspired you.
And she was funny. Wickedly, wickedly funny.
We’ll all feel the loss of time spent with Lindsay. It was precious.
I’ll miss my friend. I miss her already. She was an extraordinary mother and her boys have lost the most. Her husband, Matt, an amazing man himself, will need our help in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. As a community, we will grieve her loss, but we will honor and celebrate her by standing by Lindsay’s family forever.
Farewell dear friend. Thank you for everything you shared. Rest peacefully.