To be quite frank, I have no great words of wisdom or answers to the questions we all feel after an event like this. All I can tell you is that it sucks - probably the most difficult experience of my life. I am pretty sure I went through all 7 steps of grief in the first five minutes and have continued to grow through them in each and every five minutes following.
So instead of some quaint offering that would only act as a band-aid for the pain, I thought I would share some of the lessons I learned from my Uncle Allen.
1. Love - love your spouse, your family, and those friends who think they're family! My uncle loved his wife - how many construction-type men do you know that willingly go shoe shopping with their wife just to spend time with them? That's love in my book! He was a man who was taught to do everything to the best of his ability, and that standard was not compartmentalized into work. He was also insanely loyal and generous to his friends and family!
2. Work - if you are able, you should work and work hard. Like I said, no half-hearted, piss-poor job would satisfy him. Do it right the first time - don't cut corners and take the simplified, coward's way out. He had a low tolerance for ignorance also. If you don't know how to do something, then ask someone who does! Uncle Allen was the type of person who could do anything he set his mind to, and he could get almost anyone to do exactly what he wanted to do. Candace and I joked about him being in the mafia - if you wanted something done, you went to Uncle Allen.
I know that is only two lessons, but I think those are the two things he did really well. I also think that if we can strive to do those things well, then we will have lived a good life at the end. I don't know why or pretend to understand why God chose that particular Friday, but I have to hold tight to what I know of God - that He is good, that He has a plan. Even if parts of that plan make me angry. Not so much angry with God, but angry that death exists at all. Times like this make me long for God's promises of no more tears and no more death.
Finally, the lesson I learned more through his death than his life. Life is fleeting, much too short to hold a grudge. Those things that we were angry about on Thursday didn't really matter Friday morning and should not matter in the weeks and months to follow. Sometimes, I think tragic events can be the very thing needed to shake us from our stubborn complacency and help us see that now is the time to forgive. You cannot do anything about yesterday, and tomorrow is not promised. So love the people God has placed in your life and do the job He has entrusted you with today!