This morning I had the absolute pleasure of running into the three children of a friend that passed away a few years ago. He left this world all too soon. Let me start by saying I struggled with if I should post this or not. I wrestled with if it would be honoring to him and to his family. For some reason I feel this incredible tug to share it though. Please know the heart in which this is written.

Our encounter was brief. Just a few quick minutes to catch up on the years we’ve missed. While I asked a few questions and they gave their answers, I have to be honest and say that my mind was listening but also processing the memories. In the quiet moments after our time together, I just kept thinking back to that time just a few years ago. It was a hard time. When I say “hard time” I know that term is very relative. I didn’t have to fight the battle my friend fought. That was the definition of hard. Walking a journey with a friend your age, with kids your kids age, is life changing. Literally.

I’m not the same man I was before that time. I think that is a good thing. He left fingerprints on my life. He was a great, great man and a brother. We shared so many conversations about life, and family and our children. I remember his dreams for them. I remember his admiration for them. So many times he would speak and I felt like I was listening to a recording of myself if I were asked these questions and faced this journey. They were younger then. To be honest, I think only one of them was old enough to vaguely remember me this morning.

I stood there weighing each one of my words. If I am really honest, I just wanted to hug each one. I wanted to say so many things and yet, I know that time and healing have moved them forward. So I asked about their schools and their sports. While they answered, I just kept thinking….

What do you tell them?

I didn’t say what I wanted to say but I feel that I simply must share those words somewhere. Again, out of a heart of complete respect, I share them here.

I wanted to tell them they were all that he dreamed they would be.

They are handsome and beautiful.

They are well spoken, kind and respectful to basically a stranger (me).

I see so much of him in their words and mannerisms. I see him in their eyes.

I wanted to tell them so much yet I felt like no words were needed. I’m sure they have been told repeatedly and time has allowed them to be in a place where the words are treasured reminders of who he was.

I have spent countless hours worrying, thinking and praying over my “what if.” Somehow I wish I could tell him that they are all he hoped and dreamed and prayed they would be.

His legacy, his words, his instructions and his shadow put wind in their sails early in their lives.

His fingerprints are still on the clay of who they are becoming.

I must pause here and acknowledge that his wife and all of the support around them must be mentioned. I have no words for what the last several years must have been like and the road they traveled. This morning I witnessed three children that have had incredible support, teaching, instruction and examples. They are who they are because they have been raised by who they have been raised by.

What do you tell them? What could I have said?

I think I would tell them how their Dad would be so proud.

Then I would thank them for sharing small glimpses of him with me today in who they are…

and that is a very good thing.