Yesterday, we attended the memorial service for my friend. I'm struggling to find a way to write about it - I've typed and erased seven sentences so far. We were close colleagues and he was my mentor. I should be able to find the words to express what he meant to me.
Maybe the fact that we weren't close friends makes it more difficult. There were a lot of personal things I didn't know about him and he didn't know about me. But I clearly had an emotional attachment to him that I wasn't aware of before his death. With close friends you know you have an attachment. If you're an emotionally expressive person, you probably tell your friends what they mean to you - at least occasionally. He knew that I credited him with getting me started in my current law practice area. He knew that I was happy to be working with him again and how lucky I thought my company was to have him. I never told him - at least not directly - that I considered him to be my mentor. It's a compliment that I wish I would have given him.
What I learned at his memorial is that he was a mentor to many people both personally and professionally. It was his nature to be a guide and a teacher. He had a positive impact on so many lives and will be sorely missed.
It's at times like this that I want to make bold plans. I want to say that in his memory, I vow to be more positive, less cranky and more helpful to those around me. I want to say that I'll be a better person and leave this world a better place. But I've been around myself long enough to know that I won't be able to make such big changes. I'll just end up feeling bad for yet again failing to live up to my own unrealistic expectations of myself.
Judging from what I knew of him and what I learned about him at the memorial, I don't think that's what he'd counsel me to do. I think he'd tell me to live each day with integrity - true to myself but thoughtful, honest and fair with others. He'd say to work hard but have fun. Be present for the people you love. Most importantly, he'd tell me to take it one day at a time. And so I will.
Goodbye, Jim. I'll miss you.