“In a complete contradiction to the way he lived his life,
Kevin Foley passed away quietly in his sleep on March 24, 2011.”
So began the obituary of my friend Kevin. And truer words were never written.
Family and friends gathered at his memorial told stories of how Kevin lived: full-out, enthusiastically and with love. And though all acknowledged the challenges he faced—some of his own making, some not—his legacy was how he faced his challenges the same way he faced everything else: with an unbridled energy that was contagious in the extreme.
The stories were varied, but all illustrated how Kevin lived his life. Riding his motorcycle down the halls as he left his Minnesota high school to ride to New Jersey, doing backflips on skis long before the X-Games, playing guitar in several bands. And leaving a lasting, positive impact on all those he met along the way.
I worked with Kevin 30 years ago, and saw him only rarely over the past 20. But the Kevin that was described by those who knew him best exactly matched the Kevin I experienced. The smile, the laugh, the ability to light up a room while simultaneously making you feel like the most important person in the world at that moment, his child-like passion for living every moment.
His was not an easy life, yet it seemed he lived effortlessly. And as I sat in the chapel, it struck me that in the end, our legacy is not our mistakes, but how we showed up to other people. And Kevin showed up with love, loyalty and a joyful earnestness that lives on in our hearts.
How much of our time is spent worrying about screwing up, making mistakes, doing the wrong things? Kevin showed us that every choice, every decision leads to the opportunity to make more. And in the end, perhaps to a measure of redemption.
As a wise man once said, the tragedy of life is not that we are going to die. It’s that so many of us die without ever having really lived.
Kevin really, really lived. And he lives on in the hearts of all who knew him. He loved as hard as he lived, and in the end, his legacy is simply that: he loved, and was loved in return.
Rock on, Kevin. Rock on.