The sun was up and it was terribly humid out. I could feel the sweat running down my back like a small river as I stood in the honor guard listening to the priest sing one last song before we laid Doug to rest.
Although a decade older, Doug and I had been good friends serving both in the honor guard I was currently standing in as well as the local school board. We both often went to our meetings early so we could just talk about things. Only a handful of times I have met people like him in my life but I treasure them. They are the ones in which we can sit for hours on end and never run out of things to say, never think the other one is talking to much or not saying enough, and the conversation is always interesting. Many times as other members would arrive for the meeting and eventually we would get pulled away into other conversations, I would be left with regret that we hadn't been able to talk longer.
When I met Doug he was a cancer survivor twice over. But cancer had it in for him and kept coming back. Doug kept fighting it off and for the last five or so years, held it at bay but eventually cancer won. Doug had told me earlier that in the end victory was his because all the cancer got was his body while he received eternity in heaven. In the end, he held on while his parents drove from southern Florida all the way here arriving in time to spend his last two hours talking before he went to sleep and within minutes, took his last breath. His was a good death.
The priest blessed Doug's coffin and the funeral home director invited everyone to a lunch at the club where I am now president and Doug was a past president. Just as people were about to break from their stances, Doug's widow popped up and requested that since this day, the day Doug was being laid to rest, was his birthday, could we please sing Happy Birthday one more time. We honored that request.