For everything there is a season.

I’m saying goodbye to my dear friend, Tom, today. Tom was 86 and had cancer and a whole host of other health problems, yet I was shocked to learn he was gone.

He lived a good, full life and I know what he is seeing now is too magnificent for words. If he used a word though, I think he’d simply say it’s wonderful.

The grief I feel for Tom’s death is inappropriate for the time I knew him. It’s the kind of grief that is usually reserved for children and grandchildren.

God gave me Tom for a season.

I first met him at the Fargo YMCA eight years ago. I was sitting on a bench tying my shoes. My first Kindness is Contagious column had run the previous weekend.

He walked right up to me and said, “You write that new column, don’t you? Young lady, I’m praying for you. Your work is important to God and when it becomes important to God, it becomes important to the enemy.”

What does a person say to that? He scared the daylights out of me and at the same time reassured me that I was being protected. Huh…

After that, we just sort of bonded.

We’d talk every day at the Y and have coffee and sometimes I’d get to go out to dinner with Tom and his beautiful wife, Ann.

When my family, moved to Ohio, Tom and Ann came to visit.

When my father had a stroke and could no longer call me, Tom began calling me every week. He said the words I longed to hear, that I was smart and I was capable and that he was proud of me. When I wasn’t moving in the right direction, we’d talk about why and how to correct the course.

Sometimes Tom would tell me about a disagreement he’d had with his card-playing buddies and he’d ask me how to handle the situation with kindness. He knew what to do, he’d been around the sun way more times than me, but he’d ask for my opinion just so I could feel wiser than I really am.

My season with Tom is over, but it’s not gone, because the lessons I’ve learned from Tom remain.

He taught me to pick up the phone when you’re thinking of someone.

He taught me to ask others for their opinions even when I have my own.

He taught me to see God winks in the mundane.

And the most important lesson of all for me, and maybe for you too, is this: Tom taught me that you matter way more than you think you do in someone else’s life, not because you do anything special, but just by being you.

Someone out there loves you very much. Let this be your season to find them.