Life is Precious.

3 Jun

So this is going to be less pithy and more serious than usual. A friend of mine from college died Tuesday.

I first met Jay Jones through my friend Todd. In college I worked at a sports bar called Tripper’s, where everyone who worked there worked together and partied together. Todd was one of only a handful of guys who worked there (did I mention it was a sports bar and that the waitresses wore spandex shorts, baseball jerseys and sports bras?) and although I suspect he liked the male:female ratio, he thought his friend Jay would be a nice addition to the crew.

Jay worked at another restaurant – something with fewer drinks and more sit-down dining – and Todd slowly began to pull him into the fold. First it was inviting him along for an after-hours drink at The Roadhouse Pub, then it was taking him golfing with Scott, Matt and Joe (hosts at Tripper’s), and the next thing we knew, Jay was a server working along with us. As was a pretty and sweet girl named Amy, who who went on to fall in love with Jay, marry him and have three kids with him.

Amy and Jay just spent this Memorial Day weekend visiting Todd and Joe in Michigan, hanging out at Duck Lake with their wives and children. I know because I tracked their weekend on Facebook, thinking more than once how great it was that these four people whom I had known in college had remained such tight friends that they were now getting together – 15 years later.

I admire friendship like that. I tend to be someone who can pick up right where I left off with someone regardless of the years that have passed, but I’m bad about maintaining those friendships on a regular basis and often take for granted that I’ll do a better job reaching out/staying in touch/being a friend when my life calms down.

It’s not surprising, then, that I haven’t seen Amy and Jay – or a lot of the Tripper’s crew – since I moved away from Lansing in thirteen years ago. But through Facebook, I’ve enjoyed watching my friends’ lives unfold – seeing those people who I used to party with so irresponsibly grow up and become solid, upstanding citizens – and have felt close to them despite the years.

So it came as a shock to learn Tuesday night that only 24 hours after he posted comments about losing a golfing bet – that Jay had died, struck by something sudden and horrible and completely out of the blue. (At this point, I’ve heard that it appears to be an allergic reaction to antibiotics, but that’s completely unconfirmed.)

My heart breaks for Amy, who has just lost her partner and is having to explain his sudden absence to their three children. And for all their friends whose lives will be emptier without Jay in them. And for Jay, who should have had so many more years here to enjoy life.

But it also reminds me that life is precious. That we are fools if we think there is a guarantee for any moment beyond this one, for any day beyond today. That we should stop letting the craziness of our daily lives stand in the way of spending time with the people who matter with us, and that we should embrace the cliche and live each day as if it were our last. Because you never know when it will be.

Rest in peace, Jay.

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