I was sitting at my desk a couple of Mondays ago, quietly grumbling about the workweek ahead, when word came that my friend Curt Eysink was in trouble. He’d fallen gravely ill on a drive to New Orleans and was in the hospital fighting for his life.
As if viewed through an inverted telescope, the worries piled on my desk suddenly seemed tiny and insignificant. All I wanted was for Curt to be OK.
Like any good friend, Curt was one of those fixed and familiar presences who helped my life make sense. The thought of a world without him seemed dark and confusing.
Curt and I began our careers together, part of a group of young professionals who made themselves into a family. Curt was the first among us to marry, and the happiness he found with his wife, Dianne, demonstrated what marriage could be. Their example helped me build my own future as a husband. In raising three beautiful children, Curt and Dianne provided a model for my role as a parent, too.
Within my circle of friends, Curt was always the one looking a little farther ahead, scoping out what was possible. I guess that’s what leaders do, which is why he was so successful as an administrator.
After teaching me so much about marriage and fatherhood, Curt gave me one more lesson last month. In the days after he got sick, he showed us all what we must eventually grasp — how to make the best possible exit when our time is up.
On one of the busiest traffic routes in Louisiana, he’d managed, as his body failed, to steer off the roadway without harming anyone else. He stayed for a week in the hospital, affirming, through his struggle, that life is always worth fighting for. His resilience bought us time to reflect on what’s important and to tell him goodbye.
During that dim week of waiting, we visited Curt’s family and held each other close, like lifeboat passengers on an uncertain sea. Our vigil reconnected us with what endures, even when all else seems lost.
They are the simple gifts we always rediscover in times of crisis — the lowercase blessings too often ignored in the white noise of the news cycle, the political feuds, the job challenges, the trip to the dentist, the traffic jam.
I’m talking about the touchstones taken for granted: friends, family, faith, the chance to live and thrive another day.
Curt got sick on a Monday, and on the following Monday, we gathered for his funeral. Mourners remembered him as a man who lived each day — even the Mondays — to the fullest.
I am trying, in the wake of his passing, to think of each new Monday as something not merely to be endured, but embraced. If “Thank God it’s Monday” becomes my new mantra, I’ll have Curt Eysink to thank for making it happen.
Follow Danny Heitman on Twitter, @Danny_Heitman.