I have mentioned it a couple times over the years that I am a member of a fraternal organization. Moving to a new town and quitting from the nine to five crowd meant that I would normally have to work hard to meet new friends but becoming a member of this organization made it darn right easy. One of the first people to come up and introduce himself to me at that first meeting was Mike.
A week and a half ago Mike and his wife were struck head on by a semi crossing over an interstate median and killed. Mike was killed instantly but his wife survived for another day and a half before succumbing to her injuries, fortunately never gaining consciousness. The tragedy besides the loss of life was that both had just retired and were going to visit all Mike's west coast siblings at a reunion, the first in a couple decades.
At first I was in shock and then grieved for several days over the loss of my friend. My mind kept replaying loops of all the interactions we've had and then realize that we will never have them again. It is hard to pull oneself out of such sadness but fortunately, being a member of this fraternal organization was key. As a member we make sure we are present at the wake, funeral and burial to honor Mike, his wife and their family. It is a tough job to do at times when we are grieving too but there is a benefit to it. As I guarded over their caskets in front of their friends and family, I could see our honor guard provided great comfort to the family. I knew that when my time comes, my brothers in this fraternal organization would do the same and my family would receive the same comfort...
...and that in turns comforts me.
[Blog note: I am off on spring break next week with my family, trying hard to cherish my time with them and not take them for granted. The unexpected loss of friends is a reminder that we never know when our number is up and we should make hay while the weather is good. I'm cutting hay next week for all I'm worth!]