“Nick will give the eulogy,” I told my in-laws as we, all in a haze of shock, made arrangements for Taylor’s memorial service. “He and Taylor had a pact.” I remember how surprised the Marleys were to hear that Taylor had expressed his wishes for his own funeral at such a young age, but it didn’t phase me much when Taylor mentioned this to me not too long before. Nick had been Taylor’s best friend since the 1st grade and it was never lost on Taylor how lucky he was to have someone like Nick by his side for so many years. The two of them often stayed up late at each other’s houses solving all of the world’s problems over a few drinks. It wasn’t shocking at all when Taylor came home after one of these nights and told me that, “by the way…” he and Nick had made a eulogy pact and promised to give the eulogy at each other’s funeral, knowing this could only be fulfilled on one end.
I know Nick never imagined their eulogy pact was a contract he would have to carry out as a young man, shrugging it off with, “I guess there’s a certain point in a friendship where you just run out of normal stuff to talk about.” As Nick put it, “Taylor had an innate sense of the shortness of life, probably because his grandpa died young and there was just a general lack of longevity in his bloodlines. ‘A candle that burns twice as bright, only burns half as long,’ seems appropriate for T Made. He knew he wasn’t going to be blowing out 99 candles on a birthday cake, but I don’t think that he thought he was going to go on to the ‘good reward’ before turning 40.”
I remember the first time I saw Nick after Taylor died. I was sitting on the floor of my girls’ bedroom with my children and his wife, Kate. I had been up the entire night before and wasn’t quite prepared to face reality as word got out and friends began to show up. Somebody came to get me to let me know the funeral director was here for me to sign some papers. I walked from our back hallway to the kitchen where Nick was standing. I gave him a hug and asked if he would stand with me as I grabbed his hand and pulled him over to our kitchen island where the funeral director was laying out paperwork. I had a flashback to standing in our church vestry just six years prior. Nick served as the best man in our wedding and looked on as Taylor and I signed our names for the church records. I couldn’t believe that I was once again standing next to Nick while I signed my name–the name Taylor gave me– on paperwork that declared my husband deceased.
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
I know Taylor would be proud of his best man for supporting his bride just as Taylor would have done the same. I’ve said before that Taylor blessed me with some incredible friends by default and through them I still have a piece of Taylor. Nick knows all of Taylor’s boyhood antics and every story that a wife is better off not knowing. One day he will be able to share memories with my children about their dad that are not mine to recall and model the importance of lasting friendships. I asked Nick to share his thoughts on his lifelong friendship with Taylor and I am honored to share them with you at the end of this post.
I’ve learned time and time again, especially in the past year, that God has a plan for everything. That’s why I don’t think it is at all a coincidence that as I was contemplating this post, I was reading The Purpose Driven Life and came across the verse above. The author, Rick Warren, points out, “The word for ‘friend’ in this verse does not mean a casual acquaintance but a close, trusted relationship. The same word is used to refer to the best man at a wedding and a king’s inner circle of intimate, trusted friends.” I’m so glad Warren pointed this out in his book. What an incredible sentiment to know that Jesus has chosen us to be a part of his inner circle. I pray that everyone finds a friend like Nick in this lifetime, but more importantly, I hope we can all acknowledge that Jesus has chosen each one of us to be His best man and I hope everyone will accept the honor of standing up beside our Lord.
By: Nick McClelland
Friendship means different things to different people. Someone your views are aligned with. A shrink would call it the “in-group.” A friend can be someone you share interests with, maybe a common hobby: workout buddy, drinking buddy, hunting buddy, the list goes on.
But a best friend? Whoa, that makes this a horse of a different color.
The superlative implies that of all the various friends, acquaintances, colleagues, partners, fraternity bros, work friends, this one stands alone…and above. Clearly distinct like oil and water. No matter how many times you mix it up or how long, the oil rises to the top naturally, separating and ascending, as if beckoned by divinity.
Let me put it another way:
A friend is your college roommate.
A best friend rode the bus with you from 2nd grade forward.
A friend might’ve played paintball with you.
A best friend’s Dad shot both of you with paintballs when you were in grade school.
A friend can sympathize with you if some big linemen on the football team pick on you.
A best friend helps you break into their barracks and throw their beds out the 2nd story window. (OK, that one might be unique to us)
A friend will be at your bachelor party getting drunk.
A best friend doesn’t drink too much to make sure you don’t get in trouble.
A friend sees your children in Christmas cards.
A best friend is at the hospital the day after they’re born.
A friend makes a pact to go on vacation together.
A best friend makes a pact to give each other’s eulogy, while joking that it better be good and arguing which would do a better job. Unfortunately, I win by default. A Pyrrhic victory, I can assure you.
It hurts to think Taylor is gone from this life, but I’m happy that he left such an impact on me and those around him. I like to think that I have someone to put in a good word for me above, and someone I look forward to meeting up with after this life…we already have a lot of catching up to do.
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