Life is made up of moments; some big, some not so big, some seemingly small that just may turn big.

And despite the big or not so big, some are moments that will affect you for years to come or your entire life.

They can be obviously monumental moments such as a marriage, divorce, birth of a child; moments where the stature of the moment is as big as the moment itself, but it doesn’t always unfold this way.

Looking back, my life has been just as defined by the seemingly inconsequential moments I didn’t see coming as the enormous ones I did.

Like deciding on a whim to take a summer school driver’s training class and meeting a cute skinny guy who I’d later fall in love with and marry.

Like leaving a career for family and as a result, developing a new writing career where I was able to stay at home with my children.

Like making a last-minute decision to visit old friends at a lake that we’d never heard of turned from mundane to monumental when we discovered a Charlie Brown Christmas tree of a cabin for sale on that lake and decided to give a lowball offer, which happened to be accepted. In the years since, we’ve rallied up too many wonderful family memories to count.

These seemingly inconsequential events/decisions changed my life and my family’s life in a good way.

Sometimes seemingly inconsequential events go the other way. 

A friend and I shared the love of gardening, among other things. Although he was younger than me, he was better at it than me. I didn’t mind; I just noted the fact and tried to learn as much from him as I could. Ours wasn’t a friendship with an ounce of competition. He was just like that. Knowing what I know now I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have.

He was a person beyond his years who made the most of each of his moments. From my perspective, he didn’t waste a one.

Last weekend, he was outside in his yard doing what he loved: gardening. And sometime, somehow, he fell over or lied down on the Earth and died. He was very, very young. 

And in this moment, his time on this Earth ended.

Those of us who knew him and appreciated him sit back and wonder. How can a moment in time veer so far from where you thought it was going? Where it was supposed to go?

I don’t know the answer. But I do believe life is made up of moments and our lives are made up of what we do with those moments.

My last Facebook message earlier this week was to this friend. I was asking a question about some work we were doing together. It went unanswered. He didn’t get a chance to reply because he was in his yard gardening, doing what he loved. 

And in a moment of time, his gardening here on Earth ended, leaving those of us whose lives he touched feeling sad, confused, heartbroken and even glad. We were glad to have known him, glad he was part of our lives, glad to remember his infectious smile.

I wish we could see it just one more time. This young man touched many lives in the most positive of ways. He will be missed in many moments in the future. His impact on the people he touched will continue; those who knew him will see to that. R.I.P.


Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. More columns are available at the Slices of Life page on Facebook.