A few weeks ago I went to the funeral of a friend who lived in Orem.
I hate funerals. In the first office I worked in we had a small staff. When somebody we knew through work passed away, I always volunteered to hold down the fort and keep the office open so everybody else could go to the funeral.
I met my friend 48 years ago. His first year teaching was at my high school during my senior year. I got to know him as a teacher and coach. After I earned my teaching degree I substituted for him and we taught for a short time at the same school. He became a colleague and a friend. He moved and a few years later I moved too. We ended up in the same place again. Here I got to know him not only as a friend and my former teacher but also a church leader and neighbor.
I’ve followed him, or his wife, on Facebook. After he moved to Orem from Washington — the state — we both posted a few times “we need to get together sometime.”
Sometime never came. He passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.
In the last four weeks, Tooele County has experienced at least four accidental deaths that I can count. Forgive me if I left somebody out. I supposed people die from accidents all the time, but even for somebody who occasionally proofreads obituaries, four sudden accidental deaths in four weeks seems like more than usual.
Tooele High School graduate, Paige Rydalch, played softball while attending Snow College. She died in an automobile accident on Jan. 16.
Roseann Davis also passed away on Jan. 16 after a van went through the window where she was working.
8-year-old Rose Springs Elementary student Dallin Cunningham passed away as result of injuries from an accident on a playground that happened on Feb. 6.
And then Tooele High School freshman Jayden Davis passed away after falling through the ice at the Settlement Canyon Reservoir.
Each death, not only these four, is significant.
And deaths that are expected after a long life or illness are still a cause to mourn.
Even people with strong faith in a continuation of life beyond death can mourn the loss in this life of the presence of a loved one or friend.
Saying goodbye, for now, is a hard thing to do.
The wonderful thing to see is how our community pulls together to help those that have experienced a loss. I have seen people transcend political parties, religious beliefs, community rivalry and other things that ordinarily divide us as people to offer support for a friend and sometimes a stranger who has experienced a loss.
What a wonder and privilege to sit back and watch humanity at its best right here in Tooele.
I’ve heard some people, even Tooele residents, say bad things about our community. I know we aren’t perfect, but this is a good place. Perhaps that’s why we moved here about 25 years ago with plans to stay for only four years and obviously we’re still here.
And when it comes to friends, make that — “we’ll get together sometime” — into “let’s do it today.” We never know when our day may end.