"But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23
Sadness. It has a way of pressing down on your chest.
Your sobs pour out in labored lunges, forced by the pressure you feel. It is hard to breathe.
I was awoken this morning with the urgent call to come down to the hospice care facility where my friend was fighting his last hours against cancer today.
Andy Tofel passed away into the Glory of the Lord today surrounded by people that loved him dearly. We cried a lot. We mourned the loss of our brother, our friend, our husband, our child, our grandchild, our father, our nephew…our BROTHER. But during the day, we could not be sad for long stretches. We inevitably transitioned into conversations of what a wonderful man Andy is. What a tremendous blessing that he was to everyone who had the good fortune of knowing him.
I cannot think of one of the 'fruits of the spirit' that are mentioned in Paul's Letter to the Church at Galatia that Andy didn't display in my 21 years of knowing him. Emails and text-messages came pouring in to the family as we were gathered around his bedside. The nurses told us that hearing was the last sense to go. So we talked to him. And we read notes from people. The stories were amazing. Andy touched so many people in such a direct and personal way that it is hard to exaggerate his influence amongst those who knew him, however tangentially it may have been.
I think I speak for everyone there when I say a note of gratitude for all the love expressed and felt throughout this time. As I gather my thoughts and prayers, I will write more of Andy, for he is worthy of the effort and will be too sorely missed for words to express so soon after.
He was a once in a lifetime friend for most of us and, as hard as it is, it is harder still to think of a man more deserving or worthy to send to glory today.
Andy would have been embarrassed by this kind of talk and would have noted how he too was a sinner, and unworthy of God's grace…which makes me feel all the smaller, meaner, and less significant…and more grateful for Andy's friendship in my life.
Thank you Lord, God Almighty, for Andy Tofel, without which my life would have been much nastier and more brutish. I go to sleep now, hoping the weight of the sadness is lifted tonight by the irresistible joy that comes from remembering his life.