(Dedicated to my Angel of Gratitude, William D. “W.D.” Feeney)
I was gonna blog about aliens this week…
But then a part of my world came crashing down. For the record, I have no idea how to convey my feelings regarding the death of a loved one, let alone blog about it. However, for W.D., I’ll make an exception.
I lost a close friend and former co-worker this week. Death, like very few other things, visits when you least expect it. It happens all the time. Every day, Death grabs a handful of us and leaves behind only memories of those that it spirited away. Unfortunately, this time it took a part of my heart with it.
W.D. lost his life to an accident that occurred near my job yesterday. Of course, it’s still quite fresh — but I’m forcing myself to write this not only because I promised my subscribers one new blog post a week, but because I still want the world to know who W.D. was and how much of an impact he made on my life.
W.D. was diagnosed with cerebral palsy which left him immobile from the waist down. Although a disability which normally leave most people not only physically limited, it also tends to leave them mentally limited as well. But not W.D. Mentally, he was freer than almost anyone else I know. You could see his victory over his disability in his infectious smile, his suave laughter, his unshakable faith and his genuine connection with people. He could roll into a bleak room and brighten it up with such grace and mastery, that I found myself a bit jealous sometimes of his ability to pull it off. The trick to his success? Love people. Despite their flaws or your personal feelings towards them, love them and let them see the face of God through you. You just might say or do something that could change their lives forever.
I’ve kept this story to myself since it happened, but now is as good a time as any to share. W.D. and I went to lunch one day down the block from our jobs. We felt like Asian food would be nice, so we grabbed a table. For ten minutes, I griped and complained about my job and how stressful it was. Naturally, he threw a few jokes in to lighten the mood, but overall, he sat there patiently and fully focused on my grievances. After my pity party drew to a close, he waited a moment and said something to me that I will never forget…
“Count your blessings. At least you can walk.”
That shook me to my core. With those few words, he humbled me faster than a bullet train going downhill. Through those words, and through his life, he taught me how to be grateful. Not just for the big things, but for the little things that we so often take for granted. There are many more people in the world that face that same battle that W.D. faced, and they are living reminders of how we must continue to smile and love one another, despite our differences and limitations. As such, W.D. became my Angel of Gratitude. For that, I will forever be thankful.
Knowing W.D. was more than just knowing a person, it was knowing a principle: no matter what happens in life, this is a good life. A good, good life. Thank you W.D. for drawing yourself close to me. I know that you’re in that shining city from whose shores no traveler has ever returned. Stay right where you are…I’ll be there with ya soon.
Until then, au revoir my friend.