Tonight Susan and I went to a wake service for an old and dear friend named Carl Amend. He died in his sleep of a massive stroke a few days ago. Carl and I go back a long way here in Oklahoma. We first met him and his wife Sharan during our Marriage Encounter phase, an experience that led both Carl and I into the diaconate for the Church. We were in the same formation class. We spent a lot of time together. We were in the same tutor group, spent 10 days during the summers for three years at intensive training. It was not long after ordination, about 6 months to a year, as I recall, that Carl had to move because of his job, off to St Louis, New Jersey, and then the somewhere in Texas. I think it might've been Austin. He moved back to Oklahoma City just a few years ago, and one of the last "official" duties as I did as a deacon was to bless his house, his new house.
Carl and I were always simpatico. We thought a lot alike in the spiritual realm, and he was a guy you could always count on. I could always count on Carl to be there if I needed him. He had a big rollicking laugh, and he loved to drink beer, two traits that are going to endear me to just about anybody. But he was generous, funny, unassuming, loyal, and dedicated to his family. It's ironic, I think, that here I am retired from the permanent diaconate and active ministry after 25 years, while Carl after he left Oklahoma City right after ordination never again practiced active ministry. I'm not sure why. We talked about it, but it was never really clear to me. Sharan told me this morning that she wants to talk to me about the diaconate, about Carl's choices. I'm looking forward to the conversation. (By the way, I don't miss the deacon ministry very much, but during these "family" times – funerals, baptisms, marriages – I feel the loss of my ministry most acutely.)
But in the meantime I mourn another of my friends who's gone. In addition to only other woeful results of getting older among the worst is this one: friends die. To me, it's one of the worst aspects of what is admittedly pretty bad deal. I loved Carl. I will miss him.