A Shot Across the Bow

I received a phone call from an old friend. I’m not sure why, exactly, but I instinctively new what he was going to tell me. Sure enough, one of our old high school buddies had passed away.

Despite the fact that I somehow knew, it was totally unexpected—at least, by me. I saw him not all that long ago, and he looked fine. Unfortunately, as they like to say, looks can be deceiving.

He was part of an inner circle of sorts. There were a few of us that had gone through high school together and, somehow, kept in touch. Some of us had even gone to elementary school with each other.

We were like most people, I suppose. After high school, we went our separate ways. Some to military service, some to various colleges, most of us getting married and having kids… But somewhere along the way, we started getting back together again.

The Unholy Eight

The number of that inner circle fluctuated to about eight guys. I often would refer to us as the “Unholy Eight.” Don’t ask me why. I’m not sure where that came from. But Doug (our pal who just passed on) always called us the “Sons of Light.” I think he came up with that during a period of time when he was reading a lot of Scripture.

Over the past few years when we were gathered together, I would often think to myself, “I wonder how long it will continue to be the eight of us.” It stayed that way for a long time. We were fortunate.

This year, we all started turning seventy. I’m the baby of the group, so I won’t actually hit that mark until January. I suppose all bets are off at that point. Amazingly enough, Doug was the eldest and he went first.

Like every other sane human being on this earth, I’ve always known that death is a certainty. I’ve seen enough people come and go that it should never be a total surprise. My own demise is a sure as everyone else’s. As a wise sage once said, “The death rate is one per person.”

No Stranger to Mortality

I’m definitely no stranger to mortality. Not only have I seen my share of it in my own family, I’m one of those rare creatures who attends a great number of funerals. Being a clergy type, I’ve preached dozens (if not hundreds) of funeral services over the years. It was always a part of the gig.

All that experience told me that one day I would be the person in the coffin. I’ve buried babies, little kids, young adults, and a couple of people who reached 102 years old. It can come at any time, and no one is guaranteed tomorrow.

Despite all that understanding, it has never sunk in as deeply as it has this week. All the other passings were informative. This one was a shot across the bow. Life is short. Let’s be about our Father’s business. RIP Doug!

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]