Life is Short and Precious

Can I tell you something?

I dread the time of my life when I have to start burying my friends. Don’t even get me started about the inevitable day where I have to face my life without my parents being physically around. But, I am not looking forward to the day where it’s a who’s still living “contest” amongst my friends.

And I know it’s a bit silly to worry about those things now. But, what can I say? I’m a worrier. I try not to be. I’m trying to take heed our sermon series that we just wrapped up called, “No Worries.” I get anxious a lot too. Over things worth getting anxious for and over more trivial things. Like, the days ahead where I’ll be looking at my kids growing up or hitting another milestone in my life and just wishing my parents were alive to see it. I know it’s not trivial. However, it’s not worth thinking about it now. Especially not worth getting worked up about it. But that’s just me. I don’t want it to be. But I’m a bit neurotic. I easily get nervous and anxious. Maybe that’s why I can relate to Woody Allen’s earlier movies, like Annie Hall.

Last night, I was watching the Clippers-Grizzlies game when I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw that Adam Keefer, a friend from seminary, had suddenly passed away. At the age of 31. We were fairly close in seminary. We took a lot of classes together, particularly youth ministry classes. I would frequently swing by his dorm room and hang out with him and his roommate, Andrew. He was a great guy and fun to be around. His hair color would constantly change. We’d sit in class and he’d just say, “I’m done with green. I think I’m gonna color my hair blue when class is done.”

We once had a sub for Church History. And, my oh my, the professor had a hard time keeping our attention. Well, at least mine and Adam’s, who was sitting next to me. I gave me him a gasp of dread and desperation combined with an exaggerated eye roll. And we were only 10 minutes into, what I recall, a 3 hour class. What the heck were we gonna do for the next 2 hours and 50 minutes? I knew that we wouldn’t be able to endure the entire class. So he whispers, “I have Pirates of the Caribbean with me.”

He didn’t need to repeat himself. I immediately gestured for him to hand it over. Why it was in his bag, I didn’t need to ask. Nor did I care. Johnny Depp was going to serve as some sort of savior for the next 2 hours. So we spent the first half of class watching Pirates of the Caribbean (volume off, and subtitles on, of course) on my laptop and the rest of the class scrolling through stupid Internet stuff. Later in the semester, I’d be stuck in another boring class (Western Sacred Music) and decided to pop in Spider-Man 2 in my laptop. After the class, I got an email from the professor asking, “If you can explain what Spider-Man 2 has to do with Sacred Music, you won’t get into that much trouble.” I’m pretty sure it was the professor’s daughter who ratted me out. It was “take your child to work day” for her kid and the daughter went around where I was sitting to get outside the room to use the restroom or something. Either way, I know it was the daughter that snitched on me. My fault for not being more careful. Anyway, next semester in all the syllabi for our courses, there was a new rule to be found. “Computers are to be used only for note taking. Surfing the web, watching movies, or any other activities not related to the course is prohibited.” Or something like that. Adam dubbed it as the “Joseph Yoo” rule.

I talked to him once or twice after we graduated from Wesley. I heard that his brother had a pretty bad accident. And I heard that his family was on an episode of a TV show that helps with home renovations.

If I can just remain a bit self-centered a little bit longer… It’s an odd, odd feeling knowing that Adam is gone. I don’t think it hasn’t quite set in. And, I know it’s weird that I just said “odd” and not “sad” but sadness and grief over Adam’s passing is a given. I just can’t believe it. I mean, I always figured that down the road, I’d meet up with my seminary colleagues here and there, after all, we Methodists are connectional. At least theoretically. I got to hang out with Adam’s roommate at Kansas this past October. Got to see another colleague in Dallas before he moved out to Seattle. I got to see some more colleagues through the Lewis Fellows program. I’d figure, one day, I’ll have a reason to be in Pennsylvania and could call up Adam to hang out for a cup of coffee. But, that’ll just have to wait until I get to see if I make it into Heaven. (Not a given, for me…)

I… I just don’t know what to say.

Life is far too short. And life is too far precious. But life is far too damn easy to take for granted.

My heart and prayers go out to the Keefers.

Adam was a great guy. Passionate for life, Christ and youth ministry. Hilariously hilarious and, don’t be fooled, he was just as much of a troublemaker as I was in seminary, except he was smarter and less obvious. His smile was always bright as his hair color of the week.

The world lost a great guy.

Rest in peace, friend.


2 thoughts on “Life is Short and Precious

  1. I don’t even know Adam, but my heart aches for him, and his family & friends. We often live our lives as if we’re all granted at least 85 years to live, putting off our spiritual growth, and treating the people around us as if we have a lifetime to make things right. This post has reminded me how fragile, short, and precious life really is. Thank you for sharing.

  2. More often than not, it would seem to make more sense that we all lived to be 101 years old, then went to heaven in a puff of smoke, but it just doesn’t work that way. Which is the greater tragedy, when someone is snatched away suddenly, or when we must endure watching them fade away from one disease or another. Neither is easy, but they’re both a part of life, as are disappointment, fear, anxiety, loneliness, but also joy. The most reassuring guarantees we have are for the next life. In this one, we have that Christ will be with us no matter what, and that “what” covers a lot of territory. We are very fortunate to be living in a part of the world where we actually have time and energy to ponder and fret over the what-ifs of the future, and not be caught up so much in whether me and mine will even survive today. Tens of thousands won’t. They’ll be starving instead of sitting at Starbucks, or fighting to survive ravaging diseases instead of fighting off anxiety attacks. Yes, worry is unsettling no matter where you are, and the loss of a friend or loved one strikes at all hearts much the same. Perhaps our greatest advantage is not only to be able to keep pleasant memories, but to believe you’ll be able to make more. To have the freedom and ability to honor both the living and the dead as just a part of being your brothers keeper, really is quite a gift. Perhaps we’ll get to do it for five more years. Perhaps fifty. Isn’t it nice to know though that in a lifetime of being concerned about other people, at any given time, there’s a strong likelihood that someone else is thinking about us as well…

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