Key Words: In loving memory.

Fellow Bearkats, I must confess that this is not the column I originally intended to write. I honestly wanted to talk about something lighthearted, like the small pleasure of half-off Halloween candy at Wal-Mart, or the frustration of how facebook is constantly changing everything but never fixing anything.

But as I walked out of my mentor’s office this morning, I knew what I had to write.

When I walked through the office door, I was ready to exchange our standard banter about the frustrations of coaching, but as I caught the look on her face, I knew something was wrong.

As it turns out, a dear friend of both of ours was rushed to the emergency room via ambulance in the early hours of this morning. She didn’t know what was wrong or how serious the situation was, and had not heard back.

I’m sure there were other things said afterwards, but I cannot tell you what was said. As soon as I heard that someone I care about was in a potentially life threatening situation, it was as if the whole world went silent. I could see lips moving and knew words were being spoken, but as I stood there, it all faded into the background.

The frustrations I had carried into the office vanished. To be concerned with such trivial things seemed almost obscene by comparison to my friend who, for all I knew, was fighting for her life.

As of the time of this writing, I still have heard nothing regarding my friend’s status. And as I hope and pray that she will be all right, it gives me pause, as it should to us all, to consider the important things in this life.

Capitalist Western society, especially our American version, places great emphasis on work and very little on people. Think about how many different circles of friends you’ve had and sloughed off as you grew up.

We had our friends in kindergarten and then our group in middle school. In high school, we reinvented our social circles and ourselves several times over, before leaving most of them to go off to college. And, much as we promise our collegiate pals that we’ll keep in touch after graduation, we all know that’s not always the truth.

We’ll spread out across the country, filling jobs and making new friends, just like we’ve done so many times before.

Growing into adulthood, we’ll likely get married and have a few kids. If we’re part of the lucky half, we’ll only go through this process once. We’ll break promises, miss Little League games to work late at the office, and miss our kids growing up through their many social circles as the cycle repeats itself for another generation.

Until someone dies.

Once they’re gone, we’ll realize how much they actually meant to us. We’ll realize all the things we left unsaid. And for a while, we just might actually value our remaining friends a little more before we slip back into the routine.

It shouldn’t take losing someone we love to wake us up.

For the most part, we live in a world of comfortable delusion. We believe bad things happen, but only to other people. We cannot fathom tragedy happening to us.

On average, 150,000 people die every day. This means that, statistically, every .58 seconds, another person passes into eternity. I can assure you that a good portion of those 150,000 didn’t wake up thinking today would be their time to go.

So hug your loved ones tight, say those things that need to be said, and above all, take a deep breath. After all, for all you know, it might be the last one you get.

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