May 31, 2009
A life ended too soon reminds us to savor
By Jimmy Bellamy
The years have whittled down to months, and soon
the months will fade to days as my 10-year high school reunion approaches.
The driver’s license shows 27. The clean-shaven
face, to some, says 17. The hairline, more and more, gives yet another
impression. Time creeps past and serves as a reminder that I’m
I received a much crueler dose of reality a week
ago — a reminder that life can end in an instant. It came
in a Facebook message from a friend, telling me that another friend
and former classmate, Levi Madison, had died in a car accident near
Levi was a warm and talented soul who knew his
way around the strings of a guitar. He was 27 and worked as a registered
nurse at the Mayo Clinic. He leaves behind his girlfriend, Jessica,
and parents, Jim and Dawn.
Levi and I met in 1993 as seventh-graders at Morgan
Park Middle School. We graduated together in 1999 from Denfeld High
School. I always remember him with a smile on his face and an ear
eager to listen. Those who came in contact with him inevitably considered
him a friend.
I last saw Levi on May 2. He told me before parting
ways that he’d see me at our July high school reunion. He
won’t be there, physically. But Levi, the first member of
our class to die, will be on the minds and in the words of everyone
The death of a loved one in any circumstances
is agonizing. It doesn’t matter whether it comes through an
accident, an illness or old age. But when someone leaves without
warning, the sting can feel unbearable.
I’m reminded by Levi’s tragic departure
to treat life as he did — as a gift. Be thankful for the birthdays
and the bad days. Always let your family and friends know they’re
loved. And savor every moment.
On a Facebook page dedicated to Levi, one friend
wrote, “It reminds me that we need to take time from our day/week
to do things outside of our normal schedule.”
Hundreds of us said goodbye to Levi at his memorial
service Friday, sharing stories and smiles mixed with tears and
hugs. It’s common to look back on those we’ve lost and
remember nothing but the best, refusing to focus on anything negative.
But with Levi there was no darkness — only a bright personality
and a love for life.
When he worked to earn his nursing degree at the
College of St. Scholastica, Levi was among the Saints. Today, he
walks with the angels.