Today a good friend of mine, Alan Floyd left this world.
I met Alan in 1995 through a mutual friend, Gary. I was working at a restaurant as a waiter and was finishing my last year in college. There are some people that you just hit it off with from the start, and that is essentially how it was for me and Alan. The three of us started hanging out quite a bit, and then Gary moved back to New Mexico a few months later to be close to family. After I graduated, Alan and I never seemed to live on the same side of town. We talked here and there, and would typically see each other at bigger events each year, like birthdays, holiday parties, or when Gary would come in town. We actually traveled out to see Gary in New Mexico a handful of times as well. No matter how long it had been since we’d seen one another – a week, a month, a year – we picked right up where we left off, and didn’t miss a beat. In the span of about 3 years, Gary, Alan, and I each got married, and we were all in one another’s wedding. I can recall each of those days very well, and how proud we were to be there for the other on their big day. A few years later, we all started having kids, and we celebrated as our families grew.
Alan battled cancer for the last 18 months, and he did it with strength and dignity. He never lost the light in his eye, he never gave up hope, and he never stopped being concerned more about those around him than he did for himself. Anytime I talked to him, it was like I was the one who needed the pep talk. He always remained so positive, and you just felt like he’d knock this thing out and it wouldn’t phase him a bit. He’d send me texts on holidays to tell me he loved me and to enjoy my time with my family. Seems like he beat me to that every time the last year or so. He loved to tell stories, and he always had a new one for me anytime we saw each other. He was just one of the most genuine, hard-working, self-sacrificing people I’ve ever known, and cancer never took that spark away from him. I honestly cannot come up with the right words to describe him because he was simply one of the best individuals I have ever had the privilege to know.
He had a couple stays in the hospital over the last few weeks because he had caught pneumonia. He got home last weekend, and when I returned from being out of town for a week, he wasn’t doing very well. I went over to his house and his family was all around, as well as some folks from his church. For the next few days, he spent much of his time sleeping due to the high amount of pain medication he was on, and those of us around him took turns being there to help in whatever small ways we could to ease the burden on his family. I was able to spend a few nights there off and on, helping him get up a bit, and move from the bed to a chair, or vice versa. At one point when he was in a lot of pain, he asked us to pray so we stood around his bed in a circle, held hands, and prayed for him, because it was hard for him to speak. He said that he hated for us to see him like that, and that’s when I got choked up. Not long after, when he needed to move positions, I helped him get back into bed. After he laid down, he looked over at me and all I said was “I’m proud of you, bro”, and he said he was proud of me, too. While cancer had made him weaker, I still saw all the things that I respected so much about Alan – his strength, his fight, and his determination.
One story that Alan liked to tell about me was when Gary had come in to town to visit and we all went out to eat to destroy some random restaurant buffet. We were all fairly big guys and not afraid to put a hurting on some poor, unsuspecting restaurateur. After successfully beating them into submission, we left and got in Alan’s station wagon (yes, he drove a huge station wagon, and the thing could sleep a small family of giants, so it was perfect for guys of our stature). About 10 minutes down the road, we were passing a McDonald’s and I leaned up from the back seat in between the two of them in the front and asked “anybody want a sundae?” They both busted out laughing because for once, they couldn’t eat another bite. Fast forward to March of last year for my 40th birthday….I open the door to my house to see Alan standing there with a McDonald’s sundae in hand and he exclaimed “anybody want a sundae?” I couldn’t stop laughing.
I know Alan is in Heaven because he put his trust and his life in the hands of God. I’m so thankful that he not only built a great life in this world with his wife and two boys, but that he also prepared for his eternal life as well. I’ve cried a lot today, not for Alan, but for those of us he left behind. We already miss him greatly. I know that in the grand scheme of eternity, this life will be but a moment, but it still hurts to be without him. He’s left a little bit of himself in those of us around him that he loved and who loved him. He finally beat cancer: maybe not in the way we wanted him to, but he did it with the help of our savior Jesus Christ, who conquered death so that those who believe and put there faith and trust in Him could also live with Him eternally.
But he’s in Heaven now, living pain free for the first time in a long time, rejoicing with friends and family that have gone before him, as well as our Lord. Enjoy the party, my friend, because you have done well, faithful servant. Make sure you save me a seat next to you at the ice cream counter, because when I get there, I expect you to have a sundae ready for me brother. I love you.
For those that wish to help Alan’s family, here is a site for a 5k fun run for this weekend that is for their benefit. http://www.gofundme.com/pznt8