“I’m gonna see how this goes.”
When you think about it, most of us don’t get last words. I mean, there’s always something that’ll be the last thing we said, but very rarely does it sum up the way we lived our life or faced our death the way these words summed up our friend Johnny.
Those of you who knew him well know these are the words that preceded almost everything in his life, from jumping off his parent’s roof when he was seven, to meeting his future wife or drinking thirteen shots on his twenty first birthday. That last one didn’t go so well, by the way.
* Pause for laughter *
On the face of it, these wouldn’t seem to be brave words, but life isn’t about flashy shows of bravery, it’s about quietly facing each day with a willingness to keep an open mind, to take what comes to you. That’s how Johnny lived each and every day of his life, even his last. He knew going into that cave was dangerous, that our last four men had mysteriously vanished, but he also knew we had a job to do, and he faced it willingly.
* Take off glasses, polish with edge of uniform, then put them back on *
I hope when my time comes I can face it with as much dignity as Johnny. Yes he screamed and begged for us to save him from whatever was in there, but after five guys we got the hint. He knew we wouldn’t have made it in time anyway. There are other caves to explore after all.
* Wait for nervous coughs, let moment sink in *
So, we don’t bury a friend today, whatever got him didn’t leave a thing, we bury a hero. Or more accurately his dress uniform. But we should never forget the words he lived and died by. I’m sure he’s looking down us right now, waiting to see how everything turns out.
* Raise glass and take long sip *