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Facebook sent the usual weekly notice about birthdays. Two friends on that list are now dead—Linda Brindle, a wholesale sales rep with the United Methodist Publishing House, and Darrell Wheeler, a college friend who worked to feed hungry people. When they died, their deaths brought that normal mixture of emotions and memories. Linda died after a three-year battle with cancer. She and I discussed her cancer and my own health problems. Darrell died quite abruptly, and I wish that we could have had more conversations. Now comes this reminder of their birthdays, bringing a legion of memories.

In neither instance do my memories of Linda and Darrell focus on their deaths, but on their gifts and the ways they tried to change the world for the better.

They both died too young, but I write that less in anger and more in regret.

They both extended themselves. I am ever grateful for their friendship and for what they left behind as gifts to their friends and acquaintances. Their unfinished work reminds us that we still have much to do as peacemakers and as seekers of justice.

Others have written more eloquently about grief and death and the effects of the dead on the living. Others have written about the impact of Facebook birthday notices concerning dead friends.

I have nothing grand to say–only that the treasure of life is giving oneself to change the conventional wisdom of the world and to do deeds of justice and compassion.