I made a phone call last Friday to Albany Rescue Mission.  

I was looking forward to talking to my friend, Donnie Carter.  It had been a few weeks since we had last spoken, and I wanted to hear how things were going in Albany as well as share with him some of the things we’re seeing down here in Jacksonville.   

Me: “Hi, I’m looking to speak with Donnie Carter.”
ARM: “I’m sorry, Donnie is no longer with us.”
Me: “Umm, ok?  Where did he go?!”
ARM: “Donnie passed away Wednesday night.”
Me: “Wait… what?”
ARM: “Yes sir, Donnie had a massive heart attack Wednesday evening and he has passed away..”
Me: “…………. oh.”

I’m still kind of in shock over this…  

Sometimes, when you don’t see or speak with someone on a regular basis, their passing away doesn’t become real for a while.  It doesn’t resonate with you because no part of your every day life has changed.

Sometimes, when you don’t see or speak with someone on a regular basis, their passing away becomes real to you immediately, because you don’t realize how much a part of your everyday life a person is until they’re gone…

Sometimes, these two things happen simultaneously.

Donnie and I spoke on the phone somewhat irregularly, but our conversations were always good ones.  I had a genuine interest in his life and he had a genuine interest in mine.  We prayed for and with one another, we had numerous discussions on faith, the Bible, music, peer pressure, pit falls, love, family, friends and our savior Jesus Christ.

Right about now, Donnie and I are in our “talk to you in a few weeks” stage.. so nothing is out of the norm here.  Minus missing last week’s call, there’s nothing different.  And even that would happen once in a while, where one of us just couldn’t talk.

So in my mind, it’s situation normal… his death is not real.  His death has not hit me.

Where it’s not situation normal, is in my heart.  

This morning, I got in my car to take Lily to school, and within 30 seconds of us pulling out of the driveway she was clamoring for music for the ride.  My little girl and her dolls wanted to WIGGLE.

I turned on the radio and without thinking skipped to song #5 on the CD.  I knew it would get her and her dolls going.

That song was “Going Home

I knew that Donnie’s CD was queued up.  I knew that “Going Home” was song 5.  I knew that Lily would just start cranking right along.  I knew these things because that’s how we roll every day.  In the morning on the way to school and in the afternoon on the way home.

My heart was wrenched in two this morning, because while in my head I still plan on talking to Donnie next week, in my heart I know it’s never going to happen again.

I have been honored and privileged to know a few really wonderful people throughout my life.  Among them, Donnie ranks right near the top.  

I keep coming back to a particular Bible verse when I think about Donnie and our friendship..
Philippians 1:23-24

23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

Donnie and I spoke of death often, he mentioned how he couldn’t wait to worship at the feet of Jesus.  He would never do anything to speed the process (he DID enjoy living…) but he knew how much better things would be on the flip side.  
I can’t help but think that part of what kept him around so long as that he wasn’t finished ministering to those who loved him.. and despised him.  His life was a testament to the power and love of Christ, and he would share it with all who would (and sometimes wouldn’t) listen.  And if you didn’t listen to him speak it, it’s a fact that you’d listen when he sang it.
Donnie, you can’t read this where you are, but I am so glad to have known you.  I am so thankful that you stuck around on my account.  I am so eternally grateful for our friendship and for our brotherhood.  I am happy for you beyond words that you are now right where you wanted to be.  
Thank you, friend.