Life is precious. We are not guaranteed tomorrow on this earth. Those two thoughts came rushing into my mind as I read an email today about the passing of Gary “Shoe Shine Guy” Armstrong. He was found dead in his apartment over the weekend. Gary was 51.
I saw him this past Friday afternoon at his usual spot at the bottom of the main staircase at the Maryland Farms YMCA. I had a pair of shoes for him to shine this morning, but he was not there. Since 2003 Gary had worked at the same spot, and over the years I gave him a lot of business. It will be strange going down the stairs and not hearing Gary’s soundtrack of 60, 70 and 80 tunes in his old-school stereo he setup every day. Interestingly, Gary had a blog with only four entries from April of 2007. I only discovered it today as I googled his name. He was a surprisingly good writer. Even though I saw Gary everyday, there’s so much about him I never knew.
I knew of Gary’s past heart issues, but I never saw this coming. No one did. We never do. But the reality of our own mortality just hit home again for me. Life is truly brief and tomorrow is not a guarantee. At moments like these I think of
the love that I need to share,
the appreciation that I need to show,
the Kindness that I need to return,
the adventures that I need to pursue,
the stories that I need to write,
the dreams that I need to fulfill,
the battles that I need to fight,
the wrongs I need to right,
the faith I need to share,
the legacy that I need to leave.
If you knew you had a month to live, what would be on the top of your to do list?