It was a trip halfway around the world ... and back ... a total of 20,000 miles! ... in a single week.
He is one of my best friends. One of those kind of friendships that spans 43 years. The kind that has been through hell and high water. The kind that has not only survived, but thrived, and increased in value.
"I know it is a lot to ask," he wrote to me in an email. "But, if you can find a way, I would love to see you before I die."
Renal failure led to a discontinuation of dialysis. That termination projected an expected lifespan of between 5 and 21 days.
I made the trip because there was no other option. I led a living memorial service for him the day after his last dialysis. I loved on him. I cried with him. I said goodbye. I returned two weeks ago tomorrow, but have FaceTimed with him everyday since my arrival back in Africa.
Last night I was privileged to sit in a circle of companionship and conversation with the community of people I currently live life with. Young men and women from several different nations are sharing life in a residential mentoring course branded ONE STEP. It is a 12 week course conducted in my compound in Jinja, Uganda. And, it begins its last three weeks on Monday.
Some of the conversation was about not wanting the experience we are sharing together to end. Some wondered if it was possible to re-enroll in One Step 2017. The experience has been life changing for many of us. We can never go back to being the people we were.
It was in that context that I called my friend, who is still living, to FaceTime with him in the ONE STEP environment. I moved the camera lens on my iPhone around the circle so that Nate could see to whom he was speaking.
The conversation was short. Nate was just beginning his Thursday on the West Coast of America. We were just finishing our Thursday here in East Africa.
Nate is a man who has a perspective that none of us have. He is literally on the threshold of exiting his physical existence here on Earth. He has little time left to look back, but he has been reflecting on the significance of life since making the decision to stop dialysis.
What advice would he have for these young men and women who are on the other end of their existence?
"Live life well," he said.
But, he didn't stop there. He only paused ... before adding, "because every step you take ends up here."
This mentoring effort began because we believe life is a journey. Our intention was to provide a few life skills that would enable the next generation to be more successful in life than their mentors. But, we knew that the journey is taken ONE STEP at a time.
Now, Nate was providing some motivation as one whose hand is on the doorknob of eternity. He had concluded that every step he has taken has led him to this exit. And, so, each of us should endeavor to live life well. Because, someday, we too, will be where he he. Every step of life leads to the death experience.
Thanks Nate. I'm glad we had that conversation. I'll see you tomorrow.