About 17 years ago, my best friend Karl Nagy was killed in a climbing accident in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. He was examining several prospective mountain guides and a basketball-sized rock rolled off a ridge and crashed his skull.
In a bizarre twist of fate, I made my public speaking debut by giving his eulogy in front of 500 people who had assembled to pay tribute to the man who had touched their lives. I had never spoken in front of so many people before. When I found out how many people were expected I had a frazzled moment of panic. And then, strangely, I felt him with me. It was the first time I had that feeling. I found my courage and took the stage to do the job his widow asked me to do.
This weekend we put our last sled dog down. Kali was well on her way to 16 years old. She led a great life in the mountains, ate steak everyday for the last months of her life and went out the way I hope to myself. She just wore out. She got to be what she was born to be.
The day will come when we will each take our last breaths. This will be without warning and inconveniently soon for many of us. When it comes for me I want to know that I spent my days in the company of fine people doing things that matter.
Not all the gifts we give are the ones we purchase. Let’s all remember, as the holiday season approaches, to simply just show up. The people we care about won't always be there.