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We are celebrating my Daughter Erica’s birthday at midnight tonight. Erica was born 12 minutes after midnight July 7th, 1988. A few friends are with us. They include:
Evan, Dennis, Kyle, Kyla, Christina, Tiffany, Amanda, Kelsey, Chantal, Bobbi, Paul, Paul, Jake, Jesse, Denay, Deanne, Trent, Shawnee, Russ, Ryan, Dana, Beverly, Jim, Willie, Devon, Mary, Darrin, Dawn and Adam.
As we celebrated Erica’s life this weekend every time one of her friends would have a silent moment of reflection about our collective loss it was followed by a salute with one word “ERICA”, followed by everyone as one saying in support “ERICA”.
One of the most meaningful experiences we had, was when we all told about the first time that each of us encountered Erica. For some reason, everybody remembers when they first met Erica.
It is at times like these, that I know the friends that I have had and continue to have in my life, are truly amazing. There are times when the importance of friends, can come very clearly into focus. Our life forever changed in 2007. These don’t compare in importance, my Daughter, my career and where we live, it all changed in one year.
Building on a foundation of Rock, instead of sand, is how we survived. One of the ways, God has shown His Love for us has been thru our friends, like the ones at our house today. There is not a way possible to express what this means to me. I like to write about people that have affected my life, by direct effect or in the subtlest ways. Friends should make a difference. My friends simply are the difference.
One thing I have learned is the importance of just showing up being willing to say something or just to listen to my friends. Many people have done that for me, many times over the years. I can’t name you all, but I thought to give an example of someone who stands out to me, Denny Parker.
Back in the day, Denny was one of the toughest, meanest guys you could meet on a football field. He and I were on opposite sides of the local High School rivalry. We became acquaintances our junior year and by the end of school we were friends. We hung together from time to time. Denny and I later had kids in sports, and coached together. I have always considered him a friend. It wasn’t like we did holidays and vacationed together. More like mutual respect of a couple of aging warriors that made it through the fight.
At Erica’s funeral service, I was a mess. Denny Parker came up to me, embraced me, kissed me on the cheek and with tears in his eyes said, “I love you”.
The next time you don’t know what to say or how to respond, take a lesson from a real man like Denny or from the thirty friends at our house; show up, be supportive, show love and be real. That is a friend. You might not want to consider having 30 or more friends over, but consider this; how can a man feel blessed, if not thru friends? I am simply amazed at all of the friends that I have.
I can say this without reservation, “I love you”.