God’s Word for Today: Gone. Sometimes nothing can leave a person as empty and lost feeling as this word, gone. Gone as in never coming back. Gone.
Yesterday, I received word that a good, good friend of mine was killed in a car accident Saturday night. It was a shock to what normally was a very good Sunday. My first reaction was “NO”….. Then, “No way”. That was soon followed by “But why??” That is where a person easily gets stuck. The closer you are to the one who is now gone, the longer the question “why” sticks with you. Sometimes, it never goes away. It might hide once in a while, but it will always come back. Usually when you least expect it.
Derek Plummer was a good man. He is now gone. I cannot even begin to answer why. I can only fondly review what Derek meant to me, and what he brought to my life. For now, that will have to do.
I had just talked to Derek last week. I might not hear from him for a couple months, and then out of the blue, there was his great smile appearing in words of a message “Hey man how are you? Hope all is well!” That is the way Derek always was. He was that kind of friend. His concern was first for you and how you were doing. This was not just a casual greeting delivered as habit. Derek’s was always genuine and heartfelt. Just receiving those words from Derek always brightened my day.
Back in 2009, Derek was one of the chosen who decided it was a good idea to go on a little 3 day motorcycle trip thru the State of Missouri. We were working in Saint Joseph, Missouri at the time, so the perfect plan was to leave work Thursday afternoon and return on Sunday. A couple of the guys had to bring their bikes up from Wichita, Kansas. I can’t remember the exact details, but I do know Derek borrowed his brother’s custom built motorcycle. It was a really cool motorcycle with metallic flake paint, single rider seat, and pretty decent ape hangers (handle bars that stick way up in the air). It was a great bike to look at, and it fit Derek’s personality perfectly.
So, after what seemed like a long week of work, Thursday afternoon finally arrived, and we anxiously loaded up and headed east on our first leg of this memorable journey. Spirits were high, the afternoon was perfect, and the ride was slightly chilly, but noneventful.
The first stop of the trip was at a friend and coworker’s house where we would spend the night, and leave the next morning. This friend knows Missouri like the back of his hand, so we were all at his mercy. We arrived at his home just outside of Moberly, Missouri early evening. The rest of the evening was passed looking at each other’s ride and telling stories. There were 6 of us, and of course, we reviewed the good and bad points of each motorcycle. There was a pretty in depth discussion about the attributes of ape hangers, their comfort level, their intention, and their true purpose. I don’t remember what was finally decided. I do remember that we all had the right answers and were incredibly intelligent all evening.
The next morning, respectably early, we started on the second leg of our journey. Points of interest were discussed. Anticipation was at its peak. And, we were a rather handsome group of bikers that pulled away from our friend’s house. Due to experience levels of past motorcycle trips, the order of riding was somewhat determined. Our Missouri guide was in front. Derek was somewhere toward the front, and I brought up the rear. There was a slight drizzle when we left. More like a heavy type fog. We were not concerned.
We probably should have been concerned. Our day of riding and seeing the wonders of Missouri turned into 300 miles out of a total of 350 miles for the day, in pouring rain. Not just slight drizzle and somewhat uncomfortable moisture. I am talking, soaked clear to the bone type rain. It made for a very long and most miserable day. The only fun part was all the stories we shared with each other every time we stopped to look at the next site, or stopped just to take a break from the rain.
You must understand that the motorcycle that Derek was riding was the absolute worst motorcycle possible for riding in the rain. Its “chopped” design was great to look at, and was really cool, but was in no way designed to protect the rider from the elements. There was no front fender to deflect water collected and readily distributed up and back by the front tire. There was also no windshield to deflect any of the rain, nor the flood of water, mud, and road grime sprayed by said front tire. Plus, you need to picture someone riding with ape hangers. Their hands and arms are elevated. This naturally forces the upper region of one’s body and face forward. More or less, Derek was leaning straight into a steady stream of all the elements Mother Nature was throwing at him.
Derek did have one thing going for him. He had a pretty good pair of shades/goggles protecting his eyes. Albeit, they did not have automatic wipers on them, but each time we would stop, the only clean spot left on Derek’s face was two circles around his eyes. Otherwise, his face was coated with mud and road grime, not to mention the rest of him being absolutely soaked. The rest of us had our share of cold and wet and miserable, but Derek by far was receiving the brunt of the misery.
Just like Derek always was, he took it all in stride. We would stop, Derek would get off his bike, and the only white visible was the mentioned circles around his eyes, and also that brilliant smile he always shared. That day, Derek really had no reason to smile. But, he still did anyway. That was Derek. That was the kind of man he was. It didn’t matter if he had to suffer a little as long as his friends were good, so was Derek. On a little side note, the next day of the ride was warm, sunshine, and beautiful. All the rainy day’s misery was put behind us.
1John3:14. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
Derek loved life. Derek lived every day to its fullest. Derek knew how to be a good friend. We can spend our time discussing everything Derek had ahead of him in this world. Or, we can acknowledge that Derek did well. Derek touched many, many lives. A piece of me is now forever gone. But, it was a very good part because Derek put it there. He passed death a long time ago because he put his love of life and of others into practice every day.
Today, Derek is gone. But each of us carry the most important part of what Derek gave us. His love, and his love of life. Thank you Derek. We will see you soon………………………….