The ‘J’ lives on – part 2

This story is dedicated to Mike Bosch.

I was thinking about that J today.

Read The ‘J’ lives on

It reminded me of what I’m trying to do on earth: stay connected. Sometimes I’m clinging at best – a fragile J weathering the elements.

This morning I woke up to my phone buzzing. A text – who could it be, the kids’ school?

At first glance, it was Mike returning my annual text.

But it wasn’t Mike.

I then read the news: Mike had passed away in April.

Stunned, I couldn’t cry but a few tears. I propelled myself into the work morning, but something wasn’t sitting right. I comforted myself, I will find my equilibrium.

Connected, not clinging

Mike was not close to me – not in the usual sense. As I reflect in grief, I search the drawers of my mind, hunting for that time we spoke in person.

I’ve known Mike for about a decade. Our chance conversations always happened by technology.

And that makes a lot of sense, come to think of it.

Mike spent the last decade building internet infrastructure in small-town America. His Linkedin introduction boldly states:

I’m disrupting a multi-billion dollar industry with a hundred million users who consistently rank internet and pay TV as the worst 2 industries according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The explosion of innovation in mobility, cloud, and smart devices (IoT) require a robust infrastructure that doesn’t exist for the 39% of Americans who lack broadband access. I will change this.

Mike was a highly connected guy, in many senses of the word.

He was unique to me in that we connected once a year. And it was beyond easy and intuitive:

Heyyy Mike! Annual check in here
It’s Johanna

-my text from a few days ago

We first met at Seed Company. I was a writer; he was in IT and designed some really cool software to help the mission of translating the Bible.

In fact, I remember one of our first conversations. He told me the story of how he was drawn to the mission. He said he came across an online video about the overwhelming need to translate the Bible into thousands of languages still without a single verse. Tears ran down his face, he said, and he knew he must do something to help.

That’s the kind of guy he was. Immediate. And brilliant.

Illusion of separateness

We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Hours later my shock began to fade and tears flowed freely.

I eased into the pain of regret.

Staring me in the face was my last real text exchange with him from January. Just one thumb flick above my text from a few days ago.

Back then I had texted. He called not long after. When I didn’t answer, he left a text about catching up soon.

I replied then:

Aw I’d love that Mike! I’ll be in touch again!

But I reached out 11 months too late, and my own words now stung with bitter hollowness.

Both Mike and I would connect so seamlessly because we prize authenticity. So, in hindsight, I see now the wisdom in erring with Mike. Because his reflection back to me speaks with even greater power.

And strangely, what was bitter and hollow was soon filled up.

With streaming tears, I felt the rushing in, the fullness of my guilt – my grief. So many connections I’ve missed, big or small, with friends, family, in this past year, in many years past, an immeasurable size of lost opportunities.

Then I remembered something.

In the few days that had passed, when I hadn’t heard back from Mike, I wondered with innocence what he must be up to. I never questioned his intention.

Mike wants to talk with me. He always does. We’ll talk again. It was as if I had that mental conversation to meet the silence that felt so unlike him.

And so, in his death, he gives me the gift of trust, also in myself.

The J will live on. Hooked to the tree that points to Christ. Who died to connect us all so that we may live forever, always connected.

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