023/365 Derailed

After running some errands and grabbing a bite for dinner with Lee, I was poised to sit down and tackle some personal project work and check off an item on my ever growing to-do list. I checked my phone and saw I had a missed call from several hours earlier. Familiar area code but not someone in my contacts list.

I checked the message. It was from a high school friend of mine named Bethany. Two grade levels behind me, I graduated with her brother Paul. Through the background noise and what I then came to realize was her voice burdened by angst, the message was about my classmate. Her brother, at the age of forty, had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.

Bethany’s call was out of courtesy. She didn’t want me to find out through Facebook. She wanted to tell me herself. Mind you, I haven’t seen either of them in over twenty years and, ironically, if not for Facebook, we’d most likely not have kept in touch at all. Yet through her pain and through her tears, she felt compelled to reach out to those with whom she knew her brother stayed in touch. A selfless act at a time when it’s completely allowed and understandable to be selfish.

My night was done. I was done. There was no getting anything productive done this evening.

At the news of his passing, I was instantly transported to the days when Paul and I would run six miles together for cross country practice, and he’d have me cracking up the whole way. Paul was larger than life, with a shit-eating grin and a natural wit and sense of humor most stand-up comedians would kill for. I can’t look back at the fun and great moments in high school without thinking of him. I’d usually get in trouble when we hung out, but it was always so much fun getting into trouble with Paul. He was one of the good guys. He was second to none. He was magnificently unique.

…and Paul will be missed terribly.

I ask you all keep Paul’s wife Dana and her two kids in your prayers. I also pray God send His Holy Spirit to the Ehrman family to provide strength and comfort in this time of tragic loss.

Tonight was a heartfelt reminder of how preciously short life truly is, about how we must embrace every moment, and how we must try to live so that we’re giving every moment back to God and His will for us here on Earth.

Rest in Peace, Paul. I know your smile it illuminating Heaven right now.


The minute I saw this I knew it was something that fit Paul's personality. Rest in Peace, dude.

12 thoughts on “023/365 Derailed

  1. You left me speechless – totally unexpected, great reminder for the need to live every moment of our lives as if it were the last. I graduated with Beth, I can’t even imagine what they are going through.

    1. Thank you, Alex. It’s moments like these that make you want to hug your kids a little bit tighter and kiss your spouse a little bit longer.

      I hope all is well with you and your family.

    2. Alex,
      You know when your Mom passed away, I could hardly imagine the pain and suffering you were going through. I now have an inkling of what you had to endure but you had to go through thiat huge loss at such a tender age. I love to see the pictures of your family and know that you are an example that life does continue and new and happy memories can and will be made. I don’t know when the tears will stop and the pain will subside, but I see in your smile hope for a brighter day. A few weeks ago, I saw the picture of you and your son on the 4wheeler and I had to laugh because my daughter just flipped our 4 wheeler (going slow and in reverse) in November and then she asked for a new 4 wheeler for Christmas (she got an iPad instead :). I am hoping and praying that I can start making happy memories again soon. I know your loss was so great when we were teenagers but with God’s love anything is possible. Thanks for giving me hope even though you did not know you were 🙂 Hugs to you and yours, Bethany

      1. oh Beth, its not always easy but I have been blessed. Honestly without my faith I would have never made it. At the time I did not realize what was holding me up but I do now.

        You are all in my constant prayer.



  2. It’s amazing how someone can reach out from so long ago and touch your life. It is a good reminder. I am sorry that you lost your friend and she lost her brother. Prayers for peace to her family.

    1. Thank you for the comment. It’s been a sad and tragic week for the alumni family of my high school. The day after I heard about the passing of my friend Paul, I received notice that someone in the graduating class the year before mine had also passed away. Just this morning I was informed our former Principal has also passed away.

  3. Gil, I am speachless. I can’t sleep and randomly clicked on your blog when I saw the pic of your bed when I so badly want to sleep, but I can’t. I’m still in a fog and trying to wake up from this. I think my calls that day were almost a desperate appeal for someone to tell me I was wrong, he was here, it was a bad dream. A week ago right now he was stil alive. He was so passionate and a real rock for me. I lived wih him and his family after I went through my divorce. He was my island, the sole emotional support in my time of misery. I felt so alone and he and his wife brought me into their home and gave me time to heal and start over. Now I miss him so much it hurts. Thanks for this lovely post. It makes me feel so good to have him remembered so fondly. I was expecting 50 or maybe 100 people at the viewing and I was shocked to see that so many people loved him, the church had to run and print some extra programs 🙂 You would have really enjoyed the eulogy my Uncle John gave. He mentioned how some people are more solitary, but not my brother, he loved being around people and making them laugh. He said he pictured him up in Heaven leading a huge tour bus cracking jokes. I had his kids sleep at my house for the last week and last night his little 8 year old daughter, Ava, had big tears in her eyes. I told her to climb into my bed and we stayed up until 2am looking at pictures of PJ and listening to music and I showed her all the nice words people have been posting about him and held her tight until she fell asleep. I wish I had found this last night to show her. Your words have helped my heart to heal a tiny bit, the hole in my heart is so huge, I don’t know if I will ever fully heal. I think the word heal is almost an oxymoron because healing hurts so bad. But out of the mouths of babes, my daughter said it best, he is up there making Jesus laugh. Big hugs to you and yours. Bethany

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