Tim died giving us life

| May 11, 2012 | 0 Comments

I had fallen asleep as a passenger in a car full of college students headed home for Christmas, and I awoke as a patient in St. Joseph’s Hospital, Phoenix, Arizona. I was alone, trying to piece together what had happened.

A nurse brought me a newspaper clipping telling of the accident. Tim, my college roommate and childhood friend, was dead. There I was, halfway between college and home, alone in a sterile, pale green hospital bed connected to an IV, and my buddy was dead.

This was not going to be a good Christmas.

We were just outside¬†Wickenburg, Arizona; Tim had avoided the head on collision, but at 70 mph, he lost control of the car and without any special effects we did a couple end-over-end’s into the desert, landing 50 yards from the road–lot’s of dust and dirt, but no explosion. He was killed instantly. I was thrown clear.

The truck driver who stopped to help said Tim avoided a head-on collision and saved our lives. If I close my eyes, I can still see Tim’s face. I can still hear his last words just before I fell asleep, “This is going to be the best Christmas ever. I can’t wait!”

I had been thrown out of the car upon initial impact. Still conscious, I got up, bloody and in shock, trying to help my friends.
I ended up with no broken bones, no head injuries or internal injuries. Bruises and lacerations, yes, fifty-eight stitches in my face and black and blue spots as big as Road Island.

Three days later, sore and bandaged, but alive, I sat in Tim’s funeral service. Hundreds of teenagers from all over northern California were there. Tim had an appetite for life that touched everyone he met, in many ways he was contagious, his faith was inocent, but strong; his attitude and sense of humor were unforgettable. Tim just knew how to rub-off on you, and you ended up better because of it.

That tragic week, just before Christmas 1966, changed my life forever. In the end, it was Tim’s death that got me thinking seriously about the future. Looking back, I realize Tim’s death became my initiation into adulthood. Somewhere during those string-of-days, I accepted responsibility for my own faith and cast my lot in service to the King.

From that point on, my faith ceased to be something I inherited from my parent’s, or a camp counselor; it was mine, totally mine. I still need ¬†“faith rubbings.” I need connections with people who rub off on me, but for better or worse, my faith is no longer dependent on those rubbings.

Now, I have a faith I can rub on others.

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