There’s Nothing I Wouldn’t Give

I slowly brought the car to a stop. I sat there just looking at the door. After all these years, I knew every crack – every chip in the paint – every smudge of dirt that now created its character. Memories flooded my mind. It was so long ago when we first met. You were so scared having just moved to town. You knew no one in your new high school. I sensed your uneasiness and introduced myself – letting you know that if you needed help getting around, I would be glad to help. We soon developed a great friendship – one that would see you through new relationships, broken hearts, successes, failures – I was always there. And when you got sick – I was the one who convinced you to go see a doctor.

The tears. I will never forget the tears as you told me it was leukemia. The treatment seemed worse than the disease itself. I did my best to make you laugh but toward the end, I just sat by your bed and held your hand. Your parents seemed to appreciate my willingness to stay close since all your other friends seemed to have abandoned you. I knew they just did not know what to say or do – staying away just made it easier on them. But I just couldn’t leave you to face this alone – you needed a friend – I had to stay.

Your parents called in the middle of the night to tell me you were gone. That’s when I finally allowed my tears to flow unchecked. And in that moment, I realized that I loved you – and I never told you – and now I understood the pain you endured – a pain I would live with the rest of my life.

So, today I sit outside the mausoleum where you were laid to rest just as I have done every year on the anniversary of our first meeting. I exit the car and shuffle toward the door. I place flowers on the step, wipe a tear from my cheek, take a deep breath, and walk away.

As I start the car and put it in drive, the same song I have heard for years plays in my head. I pull into the road and sing.

“I’ll go to my grave, loving you…”


Len Bernat
Len Bernat
LEN is a leader groomed by 20 years of molding and shaping by some of the finest leaders in the United States Marine Corps. Their guidance helped Len realize his full potential as he moved from an enlisted Marine to becoming an Officer of Marines. Len became known for being the leader who could turn any lackluster organization into a strong, functional unit. Upon his retirement, Len worked in several positions before finally starting a second career in governmental procurement. His experience and leadership skills enabled him to be recognized as the 2011 Governmental Procurement Officer of the Year for the Governmental Procurement Association of Georgia and opened doors for him to teach at many of the association’s conferences. Len was also called to the ministry and was ordained at Ashford Memorial Methodist Church in November of 1999. Today, Len is the Pastor of Maxeys Christian Church in Maxeys, Georgia. Len has been married to his wife, Hazel, for 36 years and they have three daughters, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Grab your copy of Len's new Book – Leadership Matters | Advice From A Career USMC Officer. Using his life experiences as examples, Len takes the eleven principles of leadership and the fourteen traits every leader should possess—which he learned during twenty years in the Marine Corps—and teaches the reader how he was molded and shaped by some of the best leaders the Corps had to offer.

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