Today the media is full of the news of the death of Robin Williams. It is very sad; he was an amazingly talented and funny man. Though I loved Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs Doubtfire, my favourite of his films has to be Dead Poets' Society.
If you can watch this without the hairs on the back of your neck rising then, well, I don't think you'll be able to.
But sad as this news is the good thing is that Robin Williams has left a legacy. He lived a full life, bringing pleasure to millions. He achieved fame and fortune but, more importantly, spent his time doing what he was good at, using his talent and ability to the full.
Earlier this year Andy from Zac's died and last week Nick (not his real name) died. Nick was an occasional at the bible studies but, I think, turned up more often at the coffee bar. Both deaths are tragic.
Andy, a regular at bible studies, was in his early fifties and had suffered with mental health issues for most of his life. The year before he died he was baptised and had, for possibly the first time in his life, found peace. In view of the way he died that's perhaps a strange thing to say. He'd had ups and downs and while you couldn't say he'd lived life to the full at the end I think he had finally come to terms with life and himself.
Nick was in his very early thirties. I didn't see him often and didn't know him well but even I, unobservant as I am, noticed the deterioration in his physical health over the years. But when he did come to our tribal gatherings he was polite, well-spoken and gentle. An articulate and intelligent young man he certainly never achieved his potential. The possibilities, the could-have-beens that were Nick, he never saw. Or maybe he did see them but didn't believe in them. They were always out of his reach.
The evil that is drugs has much to answer for. Stealing hopes and dreams, crushing them before they have a chance to be nurtured, sucking life out of the young and old alike.
Nick's life wasn't a waste; he leaves memories. And I hope the inspiration for change for some.