Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Remembering Dave

Dave Heilman
June 3, 1971 - October 10, 2003

I made the switch to Gmail about a 18 months ago. Now that it's free, I haven't cancelled my AOL account, but I only check it every few weeks.

This morning I received an email from the mother of a friend of mine. After Dave's death, his mom and I have stayed in touch. I've been thinking about Dave lately. Several years ago, for some reason--probably a friend getting married--I started making a list of people I would invite to my wedding--should I ever marry. After Niels and I got engaged, I found the list, and of course, Dave's name was on it. Dave wanted so much to marry, and thoughts about marriage dominated many of our conversations, including our last one.

Dave's mom asked for permission to use a poem I wrote for Dave on his tombstone. I am beyond humbled and honored that his family would use my words in such a permanent way.

I re-read the tribute I wrote for Dave today and remembered my friend. I still miss him.

From October 26, 2003

Even as a writer by trade, it’s taken me two weeks to put words to the emotions stirred by Dave’s death...

I think Dave's death shook us because he is one of the strongest Christians most of us know. He was always the first one to serve, to make someone feel welcome, to help a person move, to meet the needs of those least likely to ask for help.

He was a faithful volunteer at a soup kitchen for the homeless. He arranged countless work days at a camp nearby. He went on missions trips to Albania and Okinawa.

I don't believe that Dave finished all God had for him to do, but I know that God welcomed him home with open arms and told our brother, "Well Done." I know I will see my friend again.

Dave's death is teaching me about grace. God will redeem Dave's death in ways I cannot yet see. Dave's death is teaching me to fear less and love more. I am learning to tell my friends how I feel about them without worrying about how they might respond. The important thing is not reciprocity; the important thing is that they know they are loved. I am better for having known Dave and part of his legacy is that I want others to be better for having known me.

I Weep For Us

In Memory
David Lance Heilman

I do not weep for Dave
I know he is at peace
I know he is God’s son
I know he is at home.
I weep for us
He is our friend
He is our brother
He is our son.
I weep for us
Dave’s work was not yet done.
His love was not yet spent
God’s plans were not yet fulfilled
I weep for us
Dave left us too soon.
His place at the table of our lives
Is prematurely empty
There is football still to watch
Softball still to play
Trips still to take
Talks still to have
God’s love still to share
I weep for us
Our future has been changed.
You have skipped ahead
And left us behind
Wondering why and when
We’ll see you again
We find our hope in eternity
But we weep
Eternity is still too far away
We love you
We miss you
We can’t wait to hear your giggle again.
So long, dear friend.
Your impact on our lives
Will not be forgotten.

Jen Abbas

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