Life is messy. We try to add order to it by giving it labels and categories as if we all were handed a Dymo label maker at birth. You are probably either a Baby Boomer, Gen Xer, or Gen Yer. At one time I was a DINK (Dual Income, No Kids). Labels help give us control over the millions of variables that seep into our being.
That became more evident this week with the tragic death of a friend of mine, Don Hall. Next to loving his family, Don died doing what he loved second best, flying his plane.Don was an amazing man, and I mean that as sincerely as any words I have ever spoken. Yet, those that know me might be shocked that I would say that.
Don and I had a tension. In the Big Bang Theory of life, Don was Will Wheaton to my Sheldon Cooper, or vice-versa. I have an incredible respect for Don. We both wanted the same thing. We loved our teams and we passionately fought our competition. But, we always butted heads on how we did things. I remember the first week of work, how Don vehemently argued with me over source code control. How many of you would take a passionate argument to your boss during his first week? I knew from that moment that Don was special.
Many know that deep down Sheldon loves and admires Will Wheaton. So are my feelings for Don. Until this week, I couldn’t describe why.
As the news came in about Don’s passing, I struggled to put into words a label that described our relationship. He was a great man, but what were we? We clearly were not close friends, as I haven’t seen him once in the past two years. We were far more than acquaintances, as our lives were inextricably locked together at work for 13 years. He was more than a co-worker as Beth and I attended his beautiful wedding and we got to see him raise a step-son and two beautiful daughters.
As I sat down to write that first Facebook post, all of the stories from our past came rushing into view, as if Don’s life was passing before my eyes. Then God whispered into my ears the words that Solomon once wrote.
Peace settled in, knowing that I now knew what Don meant to me. Iron was the word that so perfectly described our relationship. Don was not my Will Wheaton, but rather a gift from God that made me, and all of us, sharper.
So here’s to all of the people in our lives that make us stronger. Here’s to those that dare challenge us in ways that we don’t always understand. Here’s to those that we dare call friends despite the daily tension. Here’s to the iron in our lives.
Here’s to you, Don Hall, my iron. I am a better man for having known you.
Peace be with you, my friend.