When the life of the party dies…

Hello! I’m Katie.

Life is way too short. And sometimes the life of the party dies. And the music stops. But, it seems only for a short time before the next verse plays. So, while we’re here, we need to leave a trace of our song.

Right before delivering a keynote in North Dakota, I received the most unexpected sadness. My 41-year-old “life of the party” friend – bursting with energy, hugs, and love – was now gone. And we were left devastated. Because Bubba was so full of life, the contrast of death seemed incomprehensible.

Bubba was a bubbly, joyful kind of guy.
Big hugs.
Burly embraces.
Enormous receptions at every encounter!
Frankly, Chris “Bubba” Enget simply loved BIG.

His tender heart was an open book. And he filled each section with his people. His clan. Of course, his favorite chapter was his precious children, and the love of his life. But everyone had a place in Bubba’s book. From his childhood friends, to college buddies, to the patients and staff who received his tender nursing care in the emergency room. Everyone was special in Bubba’s eyes. Everyone was a friend.

Sometimes we lose touch with our dear friends. Life gets too busy. Our interest change, and miles separate us. Sometimes friends quietly fade. Others we have to let go. But, Bubba was a pick-up-wherever-you-left-off friend.

Bubba and Katie

Shortly before his sudden death, I randomly shared a few Bubba stories with my oldest son. More fond memories surfaced that week when I stumbled on an old photo album I forgot existed. Although I hadn’t seen Bubba in quite some time, Bubba was on my mind. Friends just have that kind of connection. So, it really should not be a surprise when my eye caught a special sign the day of Bubba’s brain aneurysm. The day he left.

Even when we’re shattered and hurt, life goes on. In my brokenness, I reluctantly gave a 55-minute keynote to rural ND women – that night. I’m not sure it was really inspiring, but it was honest. Life is a Highway… ROLL ON!

After the crowd cleared and it grew dark, I left the building. It was dark and lonely and fatigue was heavy, but a reflection from the streetlight caught the edge of an marking Traced in the once-soft concrete was:

K.K.

My nickname.

Only one person in this world calls me K.K. and that’s BUBBA.

KK the mark

We never know how long we have.
But, we don’t have to live long to live a good life.
Just love BIG.

Give all humankind a place to BELONG.
And freely give love. And be loved.

That’s how we leave our mark.

Bubba

Bubba. Well done. Good and faithful friend. Well done.

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Prom kids refuel their station manager’s heart…

Prom night – and these kids had a grand night on their mind and in their hearts!
On a night where they’ve never felt more beautiful – or more special –
they wanted to share it with one of their biggest fans.
The fuel station manager.
Donna.
Donna’s heart only has one fight – the fight to live.
And… these kids want to see her live happy.

With a twinkle in the teen’s eyes – they left the school.
This small town worries about kids’ choices on that night and many others.
They were set to show – their hearts are made to love.

prom-kids

They left with a plan. A private grand march in the living room of Donna.
She’s filled their gas tanks. She filled their hearts.

They all met outside her home on a cold Saturday night in North Dakota.

“Why are all those kids going to the post office on prom night?” – Donna laughed and wondered aloud to her long-time husband, Nick, as they looked out the living room window.

The kids were on a special delivery. Priority mailing.
To bring cheer to the home of their cup filler.

Donna made countless smoothies for them on warm summer afternoons.
She’s sold gas to fill their tanks. They talk. She listens.
She’s wished them well before ball games, and she’s there to hear about their losses.
Donna spent a lifetime refueling – and they wanted to fuel her!

Grandma-Donna

Couples linked their arms, and went into her living room.
Standing before her – they were star struck.
Their Donna.
THEIR beautiful Donna. Fighting cancer – and not losing her smile!
This time they were holding the hose – refueling HER.
Everyone was overwhelmed.
That’s what love does.
It overwhelms us – especially when its love you’ve first given away – and it comes back to you.

The kids smiled with pride. I’ve grown up.
Donna’s played tag in the aisles of that gas station with them. When they were younger.
She’s cleaned their spilled drinks. No harm done, she’d say.
She’s given them free donuts. And invited them to sit and eat.

Donna-and-family

She knows their favorite drink. She knows their favorite sport.
She’s mixed paint for their homes. She knows all of their families by name.
She’s not fuzzy and soft – she’s honest and understanding.

The kids went to refuel their tank –
But when they came out of her home –
Once again, she had refueld them.

Not a one kid was looking at their cell phone.
No one browsing for something they could be missing.
Because everything that fills the goodness of hearts had just happened to them.
That moment was all they needed. all she needed.
And… the love shines on.

Grandma-Donna-and-Melva

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