Last month wasn’t too funny.  I’d been limping around for two weeks on a bum knee and arguing with my terrible insurance plan to get surgery (can you say HM-Oh-Screw-You-Lady?) to the point where I thought my head would explode.

Then, I had a moment that put everything into focus for me.

A friend who had just visited me over Christmas, who ran marathons for charity and always had a smile on his face, died suddenly from a heart attack at the age of 34.

Besides the fact that he was so young, what was equally shocking was how happy and health-conscious this guy always seemed. Call it fate, call it genetics, call it silent stress, but this person was unknowingly a walking time bomb.

Most will say dying at 34 is a freak occurrence. But how many of us are walking around smiling when really we’re wilting inside? Or have ailments we put off seeing the doctor for? Or have chapters in our life we leave unresolved?

“Hey Blu, I want to get your opinion.” He told me about his first love, a girl he’d met at a Christian summer camp when he was 17. The first girl he ever kissed, ever loved, ever… ever. He smiled the entire time he was talking, even when he told me she had tragically died two years earlier in a fall.

I could see the regrets beneath his smile as he told me he had been wanting to visit her grave ever since. Now he’d flown cross-country to finally do just that, despite some warning him to leave the past alone.

I told him, “You loved this person. Being there for someone means showing up for the most important moments in their life, even their death.” Seeing her now was his opportunity to say goodbye, to grieve, and to share a story with loved ones. “This is your chapter, too,” I told him. “Just make sure when you show up you can move on, too.”

He went down and called to tell me he’d seen her parents but hadn’t had time to make it to the grave after all. I was worried he was dragging it out, but he assured me, “They hadn’t gotten her headstone yet, and I want to help them buy it and come back when they put it on the grave.”

My friend never made it.

At 6:00am the morning after St. Paddy’s I received the call from his brother in New York. Suddenly, being a single mom with a bum knee didn’t matter so much. What did was that this was my friend’s final chapter. And now, this was my chapter, too.

Like a doctor that smokes, we can be awful at following through on our own sage advice. We forgo taking that special trip, calling that long lost relative, or saying goodbye to a friend. Don’t wait to show up for the chapters in your life, or of those you love, because the present is all we have to share our story.

Goodbye, my friend.