Play on.

“Dying doesn’t scare me,” he said as he took a gulp of his second bottle of Boulevard Wheat. His body sunk into our brand new sectional we’d just spent too much money on at Nebraska Furniture Mart that past winter.

I handled Luke a container of raw, marinated salmon fillets and shook my head. “Get to grillin’, Johnson.” He got up and kissed my cheek as he took the tongs and Tupperware out to our patio. Smiling, I grabbed myself a beer from the fridge, squeezed a lemon wedge in the neck, and followed him outside. I thought about his words and wondered how someone could say that with such confidence.

“So what does scare you, honey?” I asked, with an honest curiosity, taking an overly-lemony sip from my beer.

He gently placed the salmon on the bottom rack, looked at me, and said “Not living my life to the fullest.”

Somehow he knew all along what the secret to a happy life was. I’m not sure I will ever understand how he knew that so wholeheartedly, but he did. He just knew.

He knew that spending your life in a unhappy job, relationship, marriage, etc. was just a sad excuse for living. He spent so many years playing shows night after night with no one to come home to, and he always said that was the loneliest time of his life. As a musician, I could easily understand that. Not having anyone to share and appreciate the music with was the reason I stopped performing for as long as I did. Luke not only brought happiness back, he brought the music back… and better, louder, and clearer than ever.

He was never scared of losing his life, but rather losing his life unlived.

There are many things I feel I inherited from Luke as our relationship progressed, but easily the most profound was that exact mentality I took on when he passed.

I’m not afraid of anything anymore. I’m not scared of dying. The only fear I have is the fear of not taking full advantage of the life I have left. It could be 60 more years, or 60 more minutes. Either way, I don’t intend on wasting it.

I’ll play on for Luke, and I’ll play on for every single day I have been given longer than him.

“Cheers, babe,” I said as he pulled the second salmon off the smoking grill, holding my beer towards him.

His dimples dove as deep into his face as his grin appeared. He held his nearly empty bottle up to mine, flashed a charming wink in his left eye, and mimicked, “Cheers, babe.”

Play on.

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