why I’m not your “fun” friend. issue #3: Death.

In a previous post, entitled “I’m not your ‘fun’ friend.” I said I didn’t have a lot of patience for “surface” conversation because I have issues and that you either get used to me or you avoid me. (CLICK HERE to read that post.)

It set me thinking about why I’m so intense about life and so overly aware of lost opportunity.

I came up with four reasons:

1. Saturday mornings (CLICK HERE to read that post.)
2. TV Overdose
3. Death
4. Preparation meets opportunity

I’m skipping over #2 because I’ve been thinking a lot about #3 lately.

Death. What do I mean by that? Let me tell you a story.

On Tuesday, January 12, 1988, Lee, an attorney, went to a meeting at a doctor’s office with Roger, a potential client. Roger wanted Lee to represent him in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The case had been tried before, but Roger had lost. The consult with the doctor that afternoon was intended to help Lee determine if Roger’s claims of medical malpractice were valid. Based on the doctor’s review and opinion of Roger’s medical records, Lee would make a decision to take Roger’s case or decline.

He decided not to take the case.

The meeting concluded and the doctor later recalled hearing Lee say ”Let’s go home and see our children.” Just moments later, as Lee still sat in his chair, putting papers into his briefcase, Roger calmly and quietly pulled out a .25-caliber handgun, put it to Lee’s right temple and pulled the trigger.

Two more shots were fired before the doctor managed to wrench the gun out of Roger’s hand and when Roger tried to run away, the doctor, his body coursing with adrenaline, chased him down and tackled him, pinning him until police arrived. Roger was arrested and just a few weeks later, he tried to end his life by shoving a 6 inch ball point pen 5 inches into his chest and 3.5 inches into his heart. When they found him, he apologized for failing to kill himself.

I didn’t know Roger. I knew Lee.

I was 23 when he was murdered. He had taken a risk hiring a 21 year old college dropout with no legal experience to work as his secretary. I spent 18 months working for him before I quit to go back to school. At that time, he was a sole practitioner, so most of those 18 months, it was just the two of us working alone in a small office. He used to walk around the office in sock feet while the shoeshine guy in the lobby shined his shoes, he would forget to turn off his tape recorder after he finished dictating in the car and would accidently record himself singing to the radio and he’s the only person I ever met who actually did break a tooth by chewing ice. I washed his coffee mug every day, picked up his lunch orders, and accidently saw him in his skivvies when he walked into his garage not knowing I was in there talking to his wife. I was his house sitter, his dog sitter and his baby sitter.

For nearly 18 months, I spent five days a week working in an office alone with that man and I never, not once, shared my faith with him.

Not once.

To this day, when thoughts of Lee enter my mind, they are immediately followed by this one: If that man is in Hell, I had something to do with it.

In those 18 months, I had multiple opportunities to initiate a discussion about faith. It’s not that I wasn’t aware of them. I let each and every one pass.

Because I was 22. I was undereducated compared to him. He was important and he was professional and he was intelligent. And I was intimidated. So I stayed safely silent.

When Lee left his house that Tuesday morning in 1988, it never even crossed his mind that he would be shot in the head at point-blank range by a bitter, 72 year old man. When the doctor greeted his visitors that afternoon, he had no idea that less than an hour later, he would save his own life by wrestling a gun out of someone’s hand. When the paralegal left her routine office job that afternoon to attend a simple meeting, she had no idea she would see her boss murdered right before her eyes. When Lee said goodbye to his wife that morning, she had no idea it would be the last time she ever saw him alive. When he hugged and kissed his two little girls goodnight on Monday, they had no idea it was be the last time they felt their daddy’s arms around them.

When I left that job, I had no idea that my lack of courage would later leave me filled with regret; that my choice to stay within the boundaries of my comfort zone would result in such serious or long lasting discomfort; that I would forever wish that I had said something about my faith in Jesus Christ.

But wishing don’t make it so.

Is it possible that Lee was a Christian and I just never knew it? Sure. But that’s not the point. The point is that I didn’t know. How is that possible? This wasn’t a strained, formal or awkward relationship. I was comfortable talking to him from the moment I met him. My job interview took place in his car while he made an emergency trip to the mall to rescue his wife and baby daughter after she locked her keys inside her car.

It’s just wrong that I knew he wore tighty whities but didn’t know if he knew Jesus Christ. And yes. I do know how weird that sounds, but stay with me people, I’m making a point here.

Time’s a wastin.

We all have opportunities to talk to people about how are lives are different as a result of our relationship with Christ. Every single one of us. Every. single. day. Without exception. But if we aren’t intentional about our choices, those opportunities expire.

Sometimes, we don’t get a second chance.

Life is too short to waste it. People are dying every day. People will wake up in the morning and have no idea that it will be their last day on earth – or a loved one’s last day on earth. And too many of us spend this precious gift of time focused on things that fade away. Too many of us slink away from the difficult conversations because it’s easier to talk about “surface” stuff. Too many of us are afraid to look someone directly, maybe even uncomfortably, in the eye and ask, “How are you, really?

God gives me opportunities to serve Him EVERY day. Every day, multiple times, I choose to ignore Him or obey Him. My prayer is that I choose the latter much, much more often than the former. Because, in the end, after I’ve spent my last day on earth, I’m desperate for God to say “Well done.

I’m not your “fun” friend.

I know I’m not your “fun” friend. I wouldn’t make a good Bunco buddy. I prefer conversation over television. And without exception, I will choose talking about your goals and ideas and struggles over spending two hours in a dark movie theater not talking at all. I know I’m not the first person you think of when you want to get together with someone and laugh your butt off. I know I’m not one of the friends you invite out for happy hour on girl’s night.

And I’m okay with that.

I would be completely miserable at happy hour.

For me, happy hour is like reading fiction. It’s a diversion from real life. And usually much too loud.

I can’t do it.

(I have my reasons, which I’ll get into in the next few posts, but let me start out by assuring you I’m not like this because I think I’m better than other people. You’ll see. I have “issues.”)

I know I’m different. Some would say, not normal. Some might say annoying. exasperating.

You either get used to me or you avoid me.

But when you need to talk, I’m the friend who wants to have coffee with you. I’m the friend who can handle hearing about the things that keep you awake at night. I’m the friend who wants to hear about the things that keep you awake at night. Without judgement. In confidence. And be prepared for me to pray for you. Right then and there. Out loud and in front of whoever happens to be looking. (well, not so loud I break a confidence)

Sure, we can talk about surface stuff; logistical stuff, like what mechanic we trust, what we love and hate about our phones and data plans, a good (but easy) recipe or maybe even gas prices.

but not for long.

I don’t have a lot of patience for surface talk. It’s like a magazine. Little chunks of uncommitted browsing.

I prefer books. I want to spend a little more time and dig deeper.

While there’s time. Because it’s later than I think.

FOLLOW-UP: Here are two of my “issues”:
Why I’m Not Your Fun Friend. Issue #1: Saturday Mornings
Why I’m Not Your Fun Friend. Issue #3: Death

the “silent agreement” incident.

I took a second look at my hair after Stephanie’s comment about the red and I’ve got to say – I think it’s the flash. FirstHusband says he sees a little red when I’m in the sun, so it has to be the lighting. It’s really more of a light brown. I do color my gray (yes, I said it.), but I stay close to my natural color because I’m cheap. I just can’t afford frequent root touch ups. (I know, I’m even pragmatically VAIN.)

Way back, about 15 years ago, I colored my own hair. Once. I picked an auburn color and both FirstHusband and I HATED it on me. His only request since then is “please – no red hair.” The name of my current color is “chocolate” (I love that!) but it seems like I must have some underlying redness in there somewhere. It’s not intentional. I was blond as a child – EXACTLY like PinkGirl. I get highlights in the summer. Because I spend so much time outside, color just bleaches out anyway. It tends to get a little darker in the winter, I guess because I spend more time inside?

. . . I have a client that says I tend to “ramble on.” I don’t see it.

ANYWAY, after the requests for a photo of me with “big” hair, I’ve been looking through old pictures and it sent me on a nostalgic hair trip. I’ve changed my hair a lot over the years. I had the same stylist for 19 years and whenever she got bored (or when I got bored), I let her try something new. The only time I didn’t like one of her ideas was when she cut it short. NO versatility. The exact same hair every single day until it grew out. Never doing short hair again. So for the most part, as long as it was long enough to put up, I didn’t care what she wanted to try.

Then, after 19 years together, she changed her career. Left me flat. (I’m actually happy for her.) I spent almost two years going to another lady in her old shop and EVERY time I went, she wanted me to TELL her what to do. I just didn’t know. And she had no suggestions. So I HATED my hair during that time.

Apparently, I wasn’t alone.

Picture it: I’m at a client site, in the break room having lunch with some women I’ve known for YEARS. We’re all talking about hair. (I wonder now, if it was a setup.) During the conversation, I said, “I HATE my hair.”

And there was silence.

Now, what do women normally do when someone says that? You know. They immediately come back with stuff like, “No, I like it!” or “What’s wrong with it?” and other reassuring comments intended to firmly dismiss the possibility of bad hair.

Complete Silence.

So I said, “It appears . . . I need a referral.”

I got a double. Two of the women went to the same stylist.

It was a GREAT referral. I walked in, gave Lisa just a few criteria and let her have at it. Loved it after the first visit! She’s GREAT. Fearless and full of ideas. She’s already figured out what my hair will and won’t do. AND she’s reasonably priced. Double the fun! It’s coming up on two years of LOVING my hair. For the first time in a LOOOONG time! Since “big hair” went out. (I miss big hair.)

So what’s my “criteria?” Here’s what I’ve learned about my hair over the years:

Cut – Lots of layers because my hair has a natural wave that only comes through if it isn’t weighed down. When my hair is all one length, it just hangs there. Thin and straight and stringy. (Which was the case at the time of the “silent agreement” incident in the break room.) With layers, I can choose to blow my hair out straight if I want, but I still have the option of wave or curls.

Length – Just long enough to put up in a knot without falling down. That’s just below shoulder length for me. Too short and it falls down or sticks out when I put it up. Too long and, again, it just hangs there like string. Ugly string.

Color – I like my hair color to look natural – like I don’t color it at all – so EVERY hair can NOT be the exact same color. (That’s what happened when I colored my own hair.) And most importantly, I CAN’T afford a root touch-up every hair cut, so the base color has to be as close to my natural color as possible. Lisa has convinced me that I need highlights all the time, not just in the summer, but not too much, or I look like a blond. With dark roots. (Which was also the case at the time of the “silent agreement.”)

Other than that, I let Lisa have at it. I figure hair will grow out and color can be fixed. Every “bad” haircut is a learning experience. That’s how I figured out my hair criteria. It’s like the rest of my life. Most of the time, I figure out what works after finding out what doesn’t.

And I see Lisa on WEDNESDAY!

So thanks for all the positive comments about my hair! It takes away some more of the sting from the “silent agreement” incident. Friends tell each other the truth. Eventually. But true friends tell each other the truth much more quickly and don’t let them go two years with bad hair.

Want to see some more hair? After the big reveal and all the comments about how I don’t look like people thought, I wondered about my own preconceived ideas about how some of YOU look. I admit, I’m always on the look out for blog owner photos, so I know what some of you look like already:

Debbie’s Avatar Photo was professionally done, but she says she wouldn’t look like that if we saw her on the street. I found a family photo.

I remembered a tiny little photo of Elle earlier this year. It was a pretty quick find and a nice review of her writing along the way.

Kristin at “The Goat” has a photo on her “about” page – the link is waayyyy at the bottom of her page.

JanMary – I had some time yesterday, so I perused some older pages and found a photo!

I’ve not seen a photo of Lisa at Domestic Accident, but she refers to her daughter as “mini-me” so I just visualize her as a tall version of her daughter.

Lisa Writes has been brave for a while now. Her photo is also in her “about” page.

I’ve always pictured Memarie Lane with long, un-layered dark brown hair. Then she posted photos of herself immediately after . . . CHILDBIRTH. Now THAT’s brave.

Mocha with Linda buried a photo of herself in a post back in July, but I remembered it. You can zoom in!

Sandy has lots of family photos in her sidebar – my favorite is “crazy hair.”

Stephanie has short purple hair. Well, sometimes.

Tina ‘s got a family photo in her sidebar. The photo is small, but I can see curly, brown hair. Her face is way too tiny to make out, so I’m thinking I would never be able to recognize her on the street.

Did I miss you? Comment and link up to your photo! No photo of yourself on the internet?