In the late 1990′s I received a phone call. It was from a young man named Alan who was a member of our church. In his early twenties, Alan was having trouble discovering his place in the world. He had yet to find his purpose, and like so many young adults he was allowing insecurity, uncertainty, and laziness to hold him back. On the phone, he let me know that his parents were refusing to let him come home until a found a job. It was tough, and necessary, love. The kind that only courageous and resolute parents can give.
Alan was in need of a place to stay, at least for the night. Not wanting to give him an easy way out, and unsure of how his parents (good friends of ours) would respond to us taking him in, my wife and I discussed whether or not we should let him stay. Eventually, we erred on the side of compassion and agreed to let him stay for a couple of nights until he got his act together.
My wife prepared a room for him.
Alan arrived and we chatted for a bit before retiring for the evening. He stayed up late watching television. In the morning, my wife and I got up and got ready. When we left for work he was still in bed. Arriving home that evening, we found that Alan was no longer there. He had taken his stuff with him. I can’t remember exactly how long it took, it may have been that day or later, but eventually, he made amends with his parents, went out and got a job, moved back home.
Alan was diagnosed with liver disease in June of 2005. On February 22, 2010, he had the first of two liver transplants. The second occurred just 2 months later on April 30, 2010. In October 2010 the family was called in. Doctors said take him home, that he only had about three weeks to live.
Alan Forgay passed away last Saturday. July 21, 2012. A year and a half after he was given 3 weeks to live. Seven years after his initial diagnosis. For seven years he fought, seven years he battled his disease. Lived long enough to see his brother and sister get married. Lived long enough to meet and know and love his new niece and nephew, born just days apart. Long enough to inspire laughter and strength in a lot of people.
The other day I was talking with Alan’s cousin Matt. The family had asked me to speak at his funeral, and I was hoping to get some inspiration for what I might say. One of the things Matt reminded me about Alan was that he was an avid gamer.
A “gamer” is a person who regularly plays video games. And Alan was certainly that. A “gamer” can also be a person who relishes competition. A person who refuses to stay down when injured, always showing up ready and wanting to play. Someone who plays hard every time, playing through injuries or great mental anguish.
Alan was an avid gamer.
He was also a gamer.
His family marveled at how he faced his whole ordeal with an amazing level of courage. He could have easily broken down, but he would crack a joke instead. For someone who appeared to be so meek and mild, he was so strong. Through setback after setback after setback, when it would have been easier for him to give up, he didn’t. He fought hard. He stayed upbeat through his injuries. He refused to stay down. He always showed up in the lives of people he cared about, ready to play. Through great mental anguish, he never got bitter or asked “why did this happen to me?” He was a true gamer.
He had found his purpose, to love people and model courage, and he went at it with all of his heart. He had discovered his place in the world: loyal son to his parents, Bobby and Becky. Brother to his best friend, Ryan, and sister, Ashley. Loving uncle to his niece, Ellie, and his nephew, Frank.
Last Saturday, Alan took his last breath here on this earth. At that moment his soul, the very best part of him, as alive as ever, placed a call. On the other end was Jesus, and He let Alan know all he needed to know.
His room was prepared for him.
It was time to come home.