That’s what I am. It’s odd how “small” tragedies in life stand out in stark relief against “larger” tragedies. I must’ve killed hundreds of beautiful Monarch butterflies on my journeys to AZ to see my beautiful best friend, J. They were unusually numerous b/c of all the rain and resulting flowers. They pelted my car like horrifically beautiful leaves at some points, and all I could do was plead with them to STOP FLUTTERING AROUND THE ROAD!!! Yet my regret for them quickly faded into the background whenever I remembered why I was heading over to AZ….to celebrate the life of a man whose funeral drew twice as many people as his church had room for….a man who won’t get to walk his daughter down her wedding aisle in two months….a man who is now gazing on the face of Love Himself…and a man that I selfishly miss. Bear, I love you. I know you’ll be at J’s wedding…..just not physically.
It still hasn’t sunk in….A 54 year old man who ran 5 miles a day is gone.
It was such a privilege to be with his family on the weekend of his death and the days to follow….I went to church with J, her fiance, and J’s mom….the sorrowful energy of the place was staggering….we were surrounded by 150 people all weeping with us, missing Bear, feeling the huge vacuum left by a departed soul. We all know he’s in a better place….but that doesn’t make his absence any easier to adjust to…he’s absolutely gone from this planet, this life. Such a strange finality, yet at the same time he’s so very present.
Present in the runner we met while walking the dogs along Bear’s old route…and old man who nearly cried and took several minutes to believe that we were serious and not playing a cruel joke when we told him of Bear’s passing…..Present in an unopened love letter from his wife that she tucked into his sleeping bag….Present in the simultaneous torrent of birthday and sympathy cards (he died on his 54th birthday)….Present in that old sailboat sitting in the middle of an AZ yard….he was SO HAPPY when he found it: “You know I’ve ALWAYS wanted a sailboat!”….Present every day between 4 and 6 pm as the reality that he’s not coming home from work pushes in and twists a bit deeper…..Present in EVERY SINGLE wedding plan….Present in a beautiful legacy of service and goodwill that leaves a gaping hole and challenging inspiration in his place of worship….We LOVE YOU, Bear….thank you for leading such a beautiful life.