It’s been a week since my friend Mike died. He was 36. I think back to last Saturday night when I finished my last song on stage and Mike was working in the cafe, he immediately came out to tell me how much he liked the song and the bagpipe player we hired to play the song with me. His wife Traci was out of town. I asked how he was when she was out of town. The two of them were inseparable, in the truest sense of the word. We talked for a bit and then he stuck out his hand for that man to man grip, we did the cool guy hug thing I told him “love ya man” and he said “love you to bro!” That was it. That would be my last encounter with my friend and fellow musician Mike Moore. No warnings from heaven to tell me to make this last conversation really count. No last glance back to catch a grin. Nothing.
A week of fundraising, funeral planning, worship team counseling and set planning for his funeral and here I am in my basement trying to unpack my thoughts. After the funeral I came home and wrote a letter to every business owner and car dealership I knew to try and get someone to give them a car. When I hit the send button God whispered...”You’ve done all you can do, it’s ok to grieve.” I burst into tears at my computer sobbing uncontrollably. My family came in to see what was wrong. I think I scared them.
I kept thinking over and over in my head, did I know him enough. Could I have been a better friend, pastor or worship leader to him. I thought of all the days I was off on Monday and I knew he was out of work and I could have driven a few miles up the road and taken him to lunch, or had him come hang at my house just to pass some time.
He was at every Spaghetti Sundays, and he was content just to be there. He asked me for about 3 months straight when the next one would be, because he wanted to cook for it. I am sooo thankful we had that last Spaghetti Sunday even though he dropped the entire pan of lasagna on my front porch. Mike let the world think what they wanted of him but he always thought the best of us. Mike had nothing of worldly possessions. He loved being on the worship team. He didn’t have a really good bass and owned no amp so he would turn down the music really low and lean over the bass to hear in order to learn the songs for the weekend. Then he would come to church and play one of the basses we had hanging on our wall in our band room. They belonged to Trentin and Charlie two members of or worship family that died 10 months apart just over the past two years.
One Spaghetti Sundays a young woman came over with an amp and Fender P-Bass and just gave it to him. He was elated. He plugged it in and stood in my morning room just playing away.
I’m not really sure how to handle his death. The pastor in me kicked into gear to come along the family and help them through this. The military brat and business man in me, immediately went into strategic planning mode, raising funds to cover funeral expenses since they had no life insurance. The friend part of me just shut down no time for that yet.
I’m hurting right now pretty bad. I’m not trying to take it out on my family but things are pretty tense around the house, we still have a worship team member fighting cancer, and another that has been in and out of the hospital all of last year. So I’ll say again the only thing I know for sure.
Life is fragile, God is in control even when we don’t think so, and in His time he will pick up the shattered pieces of our life and tell a beautiful story with them. Today, right now, the world is a more quiet place, a more lonely place, a more empty place, and a darker place. The pain and aches of losing a friend can’t compare to what his family is going through so you ache twice, once for your loss and then magnify that by a bazillion and you grieve for the family.
So in the morning, if we wake up, we put air in our lungs, and we plant our feet on the side of our bed, we shower in silence, and the songs on the radio either bring us to tears or are hollow beyond measure. We go on! I don’t know how but we do. And somehow the memory of Mike, and the legacy of servanthood that he leaves, takes root in our heart. We create a bit more space for those we mostly tolerate because Mike loved them. We make more time for those conversations that we think we’ll have again, because the next one isn’t promised to us. We give because we have way more than we need and our excess gives life to people. We slow down and know that work can wait, it’s not going anywhere. We take time to get to know the families of our worship team members, because it’s their sacrifice of time without their loved ones that allows us to do our jobs. We create opportunities to do life outside of the stage, and we love each other with the love of God and walk through the darkest times with them so they can hang onto something when God seems far away. If you are a worship leader, I'm begging you to please consider what you are doing on stage. People need the words that give life to them in their darkest hour. Since you don't know if that darkest hour is about to be the following morning, like it was in Mike's family's case. Be open to the Holy Spirit, leave time for silence if you have to. But above all WORSHIP, don't perform, WORSHIP, just worship.
My heart is heavy and the tears keep coming, the words don’t come but I have to write. So I’ll just say this. I want to be more like Mike.....because Mike was so much like Jesus!