Time is a funny thing.
Sometimes it goes slow. Sometimes it goes by in a blink.
We think we have all of the time in the world, but we are guaranteed only this moment.
I’ve been jarred by the reality of how brief life really is on more than one occasion.
One such reminder came while I took notes on a high school basketball game.
I haven’t looked at life the same way since.
Early in my full-time career at the newspaper, I was green and slow. I barely made the Tuesday deadline every week, and most Monday nights I didn’t sleep much.
One day I got a message from a childhood friend I hadn’t seen in years.
We talked about life a little.
She said she wanted to talk again one day.
Somehow the conversation wound its way to a church festival.
My friend told me she might go, and she said she’d see me if I went.
I didn’t go. I worked instead. I barely made deadline.
Less than two months later, I sat in a gym. It was filled with all of the sounds you’d expect.
Shoes squeaked. Rims rattled. People hollered. A horn blew after one of the coaches called timeout.
I put down my pen, picked up my phone, opened Facebook and found out my friend was dead.
I felt sick.
I wanted to walk out of the gym in the middle of the game, but I stayed until it was over.
I don’t know why.
I struggled at work for a long time after that.
It took me a long time to tell anybody about the conversation I had with my friend or how I’d made a decision to work rather than take time to talk with her.
It took me even longer to forgive myself.
I never looked at sports the same way again. I never looked at work the same way again.
I still don’t.
I was jarred in the gym that night, and it’s still hard to think about.
I failed my friend. I never got another chance to talk to her, but she’s one reason I try not to miss a chance to be there for someone else.
We have only so many chances to make a difference in the lives around us.
We have only this moment.
Make the most of it.