Denfeld News

May 31, 2009
Duluth News Tribune

A life ended too soon reminds us to savor the days
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 getting older.

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 Rochester, Minn.

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 in attendance.

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.

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