In the middle of this wonderful holiday, we have had a day coloured by sadness. Today Eric and I lost a good friend, Mantia Callender.
Mantia and his wife Becky were in Europe with us. We lived next door to them for a year in Kapfenburg, Austria. We ate meals together, went out together, traveled together and just plain old hung out together. Eric and Mantia were teammates for a season and a half, but then played against each other in the same league for another couple seasons. In that time frame, I probably spent more time with Becky than with anyone else, except Eric.
We have kept in touch over the years. In fact, on our month-long trip through California exactly two years ago, we stayed with the Callenders on our way through Idaho. It was like no time had passed. We had a great night together.
The four of us came from different backgrounds, but we shared a unique experience. Becky and Mantia were an incredible couple. They were a perfect compliment to one another. It is exactly because I know how great they were together that my heart absolutely aches for Becky tonight.
Mantia was a gentle and kind person, a great basketball player, a terrific friend and a true family man. He was devoted to Becky and his two daughters, Jalen and Tamar. He wouldn't have ever wanted to leave them, which makes his passing even more difficult to accept.
Eric and I will miss him too.
Mantia's sudden passing is a cloud in the sunshine of our trip. But, it's also a stark and heartbreaking reminder of why trips like this are important. You can't put off living. You can't wait for the perfect time to take advantage of plans. We need to soak up every moment.