Posted by: suek2001 | October 23, 2010

I Asked God For All Things That I Might Enjoy Life…


I Asked God For All Things That I Might Enjoy Life…….

 The weather outside is getting darker…colder..and windier….

Normally I’d be sad on days like today but the weather fits my melancholy mood. This particular week of October is my least favorite one of the year.

 In my mind, I revert back to that one horrible week in 1995. It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since my best friend in college died.

For those that know me now, it’s hard to explain the impact that Dennis Mertz had on my life. By all accounts, we were only close friends for a little over a year but that friendship came at a crucial time in my life. My first year of Bible College was so NOT what I was expecting.

For those that knew me before that year, I was shy…sorta funny and painfully geeky/nerdy. I was also desperate to fit in but I never got the concept that to fit in, I had to surrender my personality and I was just too stubborn to do that.

North Central University was my first real adventure..far from my Mom…far from my childhood church and far from reality. I only went there because I knew I had the gift of writing and I wanted to use it to glorify God. So, my mom suggested Bible College..North Central. I had no desire to go to a place where stuffed shirts walked around discussing theology and preaching methods. That was my vision of North Central. The reality was quite different.

I met Dennis on August 30, 1994. I recall the date because my birthday was a few days later and he made that day special to me. We were an odd pair. Our age, our background and our goals were different and varied. Rumors about how serious we were to each other circulated on that small campus.

Meeting Dennis changed my life. He taught me to not be reserved in my not be afraid.. to be bold in who I am. I learned how to laugh more and appreciate that it was okay to be a bit different. This may seem strange but he taught me through his acceptance that being an outsider was okay too.

It may have been only one year but what a year it was. Four million moments in our friendship spring immediately to mind when I say his name but so few mean so little to anyone but us. There were meetings before Dr. Meyer’s 7am class in the mail room to discuss the text we read and the issues of the day. There were the times we’d quietly chuckle at Dr. Meyer as he picked a hymn for the whole class to sing and Meyer only knew the first line.

There was the way he would scoldingly say my name whenever I get too self-deprecating or the way he would defend his hometown of Milwaukee whenever I had the misfortune of insulting it. I loved it whenever he would use the phrase “Way the heck out in…..(fill in blank)” to describe some distant place. I later would adopt that for a while.

 As I said, a million more memories flood back to me. The one thing I am grateful for aside from his friendship is that I still remember his voice. I’ve heard it said that as years go by, people forget what a voice sounds like but I am so glad I never forgot it.

The last week of his life is one I live over and over. That Monday, he came back from a trip home to see his family , he was filled with hope..and yet underneath there was fear. He met with his dad,with whom he had a strained relationship, and found a bit of uneasy peace there.

That Tuesday, we spent some time together as he found a stereo someone donated to him and as he celebrated his roommate moving out, we ate popcorn and listen to Bill Gaither on the radio. The following night, I realized I hadn’t heard from him all day. I knew he wasn’t feeling well and I gave him some NyQuil. I found out later that diabetics shouldn’t really have NyQuil for fear of insulin shock. I ran over to check on him and he greeted me at the door in his bathrobe and with a smile. Somehow we wound up shouting at each other and I stormed out of his apartment. That would be the last time I would see him before he died.

Two days later, I went to check on him as I had been calling him all day. He missed the Inauguration of our then-new College President, Dr. Anderson. It was there I saw him on the floor. I went over to give him CPR but found his body was stiff and his head stuck to the floor. I will never forget the noise that made as it bounced off the walls in that old-fashioned apartment. I ran into the next apartment where my best friend Jane was waiting to go out and celebrate her birthday. She cared about him too and she let me cry. All I know I was crying so hard, I inhaled her hair and in that moment, I felt a strange comfort.

……..End of Part 1………

God Gave Me Life that I might enjoy all things….. 

Part 2…..

 The rest of the night was spent in a fog. I have recollections of my roommates standing with me in the hallway as paramedics got the body..and then they all had somewhere else to be, leaving me alone in my grief, confusion and darkness. I recall wandering the halls of North Central, ’till I ran into Tracy Johnson , if I recall correctly, and we sat on the bathroom floor for over an hour and hugged and cried. She let me ramble on and on..and that’s how the first six months of grief were for me. All I know is it started with me saying to myself. “What am I going to do now?”

 I went to his funeral and then tried to live like a regular student. My professors were generous with me and understanding if homework wasn’t done. I vaguely recall letting my emotions and grief getting away from me several times in public so I resorted to sleeping a lot, skipping classes on occasion and keeping to myself. Those first few months were very black.

Music helped….I really believe God gave me music to get me through that dark time. John Denver music became my refuge. I found healing through his music as Dennis was a fan and that kept him with me. I was standing at the bus stop when the words to a John Denver song hit me like it never had before:

“All of her days have gone soft and cloudy, all of her dreams have gone dry,

all of her nights have gone sad and shady, she’s getting ready to fly”-Fly Away

 Now I heard that song billions of times before but just that opening phrase hit me as that was my state of mind. I then realized that through music and school, I knew I was going to be okay. I was just walking a different path than the one I dreamed of taking.

I had experienced mourning before but Dennis’ death was the first one to really shape my future. I look at who I am in terms of who I was before Dennis and who I am now. My outlook is different. My faith in God is definitely different. Fifteen years later and I see the difference in me.

 I did manage to graduate from college, with a degree in Mass Communications and a dream for radio broadcasting. If you told me that night, I would have made it to the podium, I would have believed it as I didn’t think I’d make it out of the weekend. Looking back , I see it was the fervent prayers of so many that kept me going that first year. I slowly regained my joy, hope and sanity over time. It wasn’t easy but it was doable.

One other random musical note, in 1997, I experienced healing of a different sort when I heard George Grove’s solo CD “Middle of a Life” (sadly now out of print). The CD chronicles in song a relationship from first blush to all the facets therein. It was just the tonic I needed to put my friendship with Dennis in proper perspective. I really believe it helped me move forward in my life.

I would go on to make close friends with some people from North Central. I would move to a fantastic place called Duluth. I would meet friends and date someone very special. I would also find a church family that give me great fellowship and support. All of this would not have happened, had Dennis not been called home.

I think back on that night and know the meaning of the scripture that says, “No man has seen, no eye has heard , the things that God has prepared for those who love Him”. Dennis knew that 15 years ago this week. I know it now.

These blogs have been unusually long and I apologize if they are a bit too much but part of this is therapy for me. The titles of the two blogs refer to a plaque Dennis gave me for my birthday in 1994. I believe it’s appropriate and I will close with the complete quotation:

I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life,

God gave me life that I might enjoy all things.”




  1. Thank you for sharing. I Googled “Life, that I may enjoy all things” and found your blog. I was hoping to quote it for today’s sermon.

    Graeme Beckett
    St Helena Island
    S Atlantic Ocean

  2. […] […]

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