A Shard of Orange Plastic

I am holding a shard of orange plastic in my hand.  I picked it up off the road a couple of miles from my house. I plan to keep it for awhile as a reminder of how fragile the world is. Yesterday afternoon this piece of plastic, the sharp edges of which don't feel quite comfortable in my pocket, was part of a motorcycle that rocketed my friend's son from this life to the next. This little piece of plastic that I picked up from the busy intersection, while traffic rushed on as if nothing had happened,  this little piece of nothing was part of the world that shattered for Kappel - instantly they say,  mercifully - and with him,  the world shattered for my dear friends Curt and Tish,  their daughter Lily,  his friend Caleb,  and hundreds of others whom I can't name. Kappel very likely did not know how essential he was to so many,  but his death is unraveling the world for those who loved him and for those who loved those who loved him. 

In that respect Kappel is not unique - except to those who love him. Nor is his loss unique - except to those who love him. My friend Greg's son,  who also died on a motorcycle, was just as precious to many,  many people. So was my friend Dan's son. So is my own son and my daughter,  both still living,  thank God. In fact there is not a person on whom the world has not turned for someone else. That is the value of life. It blazes bright while we live,  but in a way,  it blazes even brighter when we die because then the contrast between presence and absence is most striking. 

In death,  we are all reminded how much a young man like Kappel matters to us. It doesn't matter whether he thought he mattered,  whether he even tried to matter. He did matter. The shattered world at the end of his life proves it. The weeping friends and family prove it. The shard of orange in my hand proves it. 

You matter. If your life doesn't prove it to you, your death will prove it to the rest of us. You will be missed. Burn as brightly in life as you can, so that when you die, the flame will rise even higher.

8 comments

  • Annie
    Annie
    Beautifully written, and so true. Thank you for sharing. He will be grately missed

    Beautifully written, and so true. Thank you for sharing. He will be grately missed

  • Wayne
    Wayne Franklin
    Beautiful Jim. Thank you

    Beautiful Jim. Thank you

  • Greg
    Greg Nashville
    Thank you for your beautifully-written memorial.

    Thank you for your beautifully-written memorial.

  • Doc and Beth
    Doc and Beth Durham
    Thank you, Jim, for words we are struggling to find.

    Thank you, Jim, for words we are struggling to find.

  • Christopher Harris
    Christopher Harris Franklin/Nashville
    If your life doesn't prove it to you, your death will prove it to the rest of us. You will be missed. Burn as brightly in life as you can, so that when you die, the flame will rise even higher. KAP lived it for sure...RIP Thank you Jim

    If your life doesn't prove it to you, your death will prove it to the rest of us. You will be missed. Burn as brightly in life as you can, so that when you die, the flame will rise even higher. KAP lived it for sure...RIP
    Thank you Jim

  • Cameron Anderson
    Cameron Anderson Madison, Wisconsin
    "Burn as brightly as you can." Indeed, may it be true on this day and all others.

    "Burn as brightly as you can." Indeed, may it be true on this day and all others.

  • Jerry Bryant
    Jerry Bryant Nashville, TN
    The threshold to a new life is ever present...we never know when we will step across. Now is the time to be at peace with all men and with Him who loves us most.

    The threshold to a new life is ever present...we never know when we will step across. Now is the time to be at peace with all men and with Him who loves us most.

  • Karen Zimmerman
    Karen Zimmerman Waynesville, NC
    Thank you Jim for such beautifully written words.........This set of words sums it up for me. " and for those who loved those who loved him." I never met Kappel. I read some of his writings that were in a backpack in my Son's vehicle a long time ago. From then on I had always wanted to meet him. I heard so much about him over the years, and was looking so forward to meeting him at my Son's wedding. Such a talented young man. Please give his parents my respect. I have been keeping them in my prayers.

    Thank you Jim for such beautifully written words.........This set of words sums it up for me.
    " and for those who loved those who loved him." I never met Kappel. I read some of his writings that were in a backpack in my Son's vehicle a long time ago. From then on I had always wanted to meet him. I heard so much about him over the years, and was looking so forward to meeting him at my Son's wedding. Such a talented young man.
    Please give his parents my respect. I have been keeping them in my prayers.

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