Two young men, at opposite ends of the country, gone. Both were complete champions in life, the type that everyone loved to be around, they were the type that were successful at everything they did, and were champions in their sports and in their hobbies. Both of their deaths, shook the very core of the communities in which they lived, and now the parents, and their friends are left trying to piece their lives back together.

These two young men have transformed my life. I’ve learned more from their deaths about how we are supposed to live, than any other event that has occurred to me in a long time.

One of them, Nathan Timmes, was a 20 year old Eagle Scout, and the nephew of a high school friend, was a motorcycle racer, mountain climber, pilot, sky diver, white water rafting exciting young man who was studying aviation in college. He died earlier this year in a car accident. This young man lived his life completely fully. He did everything by giving 100%. He loved his friends, his hobbies and his family with complete intensity. At the funeral, they displayed dozens of pictures of him on top of mountains, jumping out of planes, on motorcycles, with his friends, always experiencing out door adventure, above everything, he lived without fear, and always, loving life. To remind me of how I should live every day, I’ve kept his picture from the funeral on my bulletin board. This young boys’ life, which I found out by because of his death, transformed me.

The other boy, Dan Lunger, the son of a high school friend, was a state champion swimmer who had just made junior nationals. He was also an eagle scout, and the type of person that loved life as much as anyone could. His dad, Howard told me on the phone from Colorado yesterday, that his son had experienced true love, the gift of friendship, the gift of being a champion and that he wasn’t afraid to give his dad a hug in front of his buddies. At the funeral, dozens of kids who knew this boy Dan, went up to his parents and told them story after story of how friendly Dan always was and how he always took time to say Hi and to care about everyone, even if they weren’t in his circle of friends. He attracted the “Jocks to the Goths”, and everyone, everywhere, was touched by his zest for life. This 16 year old boy, who I never met, has affected my life in ways I never knew he could.

Yesterday, I spent 45 minutes on the phone with my friend Howard, and as he told me the stories of his son Dan, and how an undetected heart ailment stole his young life within minutes. While on the phone and hearing the tragic story, I got a glimpse of his extraordinary life in Colorado. Howard told me how many, many lives were touched by just a friendly “hello” every day, or by the easy attitude he had about his grades, or even about his sport that he loved, swimming. Dan didn’t get weighed down by the normal stresses of life, and he attempted to bring a friendly conversation or a little comfort to whoever he met, whether it be in class, or at a swim meet with his biggest competitor.

I don’t know if the parents of these boys will ever understand how God could allow their incredible young lives to end so suddenly. It’s got to be the most painful thing in the world to see your child die. But both families, somehow, were given amazing grace, to stand up and speak with each person who told them of how their son personally effected their lives.

My friend Howard told me that no one will ever get a true glimpse of a person’s life, until they die. People that he’d never met came to the funeral to share their stories of Dan and his life and what he meant to others. Over and over, Howard and his wife were just stunned of the impact that their 16 year old had on others. He lived the way we’re supposed to live.

When I think about my life, of how I’ve worried about the smallest things, or have obsessed over my career, or about the car I drive or the clothes I wear, I realize that I’m wasting my precious energy. I believe that God has us here on earth, to love others. Period. That’s our job. We are to do that through our work, and by being a good neighbor, by being a devoted wife, mother, friend, spouse, sister, brother, or whatever the different roles that we play. It’s the people that are important. It’s the people’s lives that we touch that are important. We are supposed to live life fully, by going out and experiencing it and not being fearful of it. We’re supposed to support one another, to we are supposed to tell others that we care for them. We are supposed to love our neighbors as our selves, and we are supposed to love and serve God above all else. To me, that means to serve Him by serving others. It means that my attitude at all times, is the most important thing going on at the moment. If I encounter a stressful moment, the most important thing is the attitude of peace and comfort that should accompany that stressful moment.

None of us are promised another day. A car accident or an undetected heart problem or something else could take us from the earth on this very day. And what would the streams of people say at our funerals? Would they say that we were well loved and always seemed to bring comfort or a kind word to others, or would they say simply to the survivors, “I’m sorry for your loss?”

How are we affecting the people we meet each day? Are we meeting others with a smile and a kind word, or with a stressful glance as we hurry on by. Are we taking the time to share with people or are we too busy to care? Are we saying “I love you” to our friends and families when we walk away or hang up the phone? Or are we consumed with how much extra weight we’re carrying around or what outfit to wear to an upcoming reunion?

I’ve been guilty of having the wrong attitude and have focused on the wrong things. But I see these two young mens’ lives, and now deeply understand the truth about my own life. We all have a purpose. We’re here to love, and to serve. Through our serving others, we glorify God, and by sharing ourselves deeply with others we give each other comfort. God uses us to help others, and we in turn are inspired by others. We’re all connected. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Today, these two young men, continue to live on in our hearts and minds. Their lives gave love to many when they lived, and in their death, they give hope. I pray that their families know that their lives served a great purpose, even in their deaths.

Their untimely deaths, inspired many to develop a new life. Their deaths encourage us to live a life without fear, and lives filled with adventure, fun, happy times, acceptance, calmness, friendship and love. It all seems so familiar now. It’s happened before, and perhaps this was a current day reminder. Two thousand years ago, God the Father, gave his Son to die for our sins, so that we might have a new life and that we might have it abundantly. Even today, he shows us how to live our lives. It all makes sense to me now.

As we are reminded of their lives and deaths, we can chose to live our lives fully, and we, can be free.