R.I.P., JIM HAWKINS: Yes, blogging has been light — and somewhat distracted — the past few days. That’s because Jim Hawkins died last weekend. A friend of mine, and an even closer friend of my brother’s, he was a fine human being. He raced cars and snowmobiles, skydived, and played guitar in rundown blues bars. (In Knoxville, he played with the late Sara Jordan of The Jordan Project.) But he died not from any of those activities, but from lung cancer at the age of 40. It was a sad ending to a good life, and more proof that in this world you don’t always get what you deserve.

I remember him as always cheerful, even when things were going badly. At the memorial service, it was obvious how many lives he had touched, and how much he meant to many people. (I found out last night that he went out Christmas carolling every year with the family of a friend from Junior High School, something that I never would have guessed about him).

Jim developed very serious and aggressive lung cancer, fought it through the entire round of chemotherapies, and died with grace and dignity, leaving his wife, family and friends sad, but with memories of his strength and courage that are an obvious comfort to them (and us) even now, and that will be more so with the passage of time. We should all go out so well, if not so soon.

His death is a reminder that we should live life well, while we can. Jim certainly did.