Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
“O death, where is thy sting?”
— Paul the Apostle
Few things in life catch us off guard like the sudden death of a loved one.
We all experience this while in this frail existence called mortality.
I experienced a left hook followed by a quick right jab last week with the death of loved ones who left me in a melancholy mood.
It reminded me of 30-plus years ago while working at the Tooele Transcript Bulletin, I informed a young, sharp, hard-working reporter that one of our county commissioners had passed away.
“We are all terminal, baby,” was his initial response.
The first situation last week was the death of a neighbor whom I did not know. He lived directly two streets over from our home with his young family in our quaint little neighborhood.
Chris Bryson was a young, vibrant, 35-year-old father of pre-school twins and an infant.
Wednesday morning he was driving on state Route 36 in Lake Point when a car from the opposite direction crashed into his vehicle.
Although law enforcement, emergency response, and medical professionals did everything within their powers, Chris lost his life a few hours later.
His death struck home because the same unfortunate incident can happen to any of my children.
The shower of support from our neighborhood amazed me.
Since talking to neighbors over the fence — or even on a telephone — are slowly approaching lost skill sets, various forms of social media took center stage.
People from all directions of various ages, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds took action striving to relieve the grief of Chris’ young family.
Flowers and cash contributions began to flow, a special credit union account was established, and details of the funeral arrangements were completed in short order.
The most common question via texting and Facebook was “How can I help?”
While the shock begins to wane, grief continues to linger. Those neighbors are quickly forming plans to assist the family over the long term.
My second arrival of sad news came via a co-worker who informed me that my high school friend, Sam Sanderson, passed away suddenly in Omaha, Nebraska.
How can that be? Throughout his life, Sam kept himself in good physical shape and he is only in his early-60s.
A flood of memories from our days on the high school swim team began to swirl as I contemplated the fact that I would never see Sam again in this life.
I always admired his upbeat spirit, positive attitude, work ethic, and keen mind.
In addition to being sharp-witted, Sam loved learning and discovering the wonderful world of science.
When you spend four to five hours daily training in chlorinated water — not to mention the countless meets and associated bus trips — amazing bonds of friendship blossom.
I cherish the adventurous memories we built by riding our Schwinn Continental bikes (sans helmets) from Tooele to Salt Lake and back.
After graduating from Tooele High, Sam pursued his passion for science at the University of Utah, Ohio State University, and University of Nebraska.
Dr. Sanderson became a research associate professor at the University of Nebraska’s College of Pharmacy. His research focused on technology of the immune system as an attack mechanism against invading pathogens.
The Omaha World-Herald reported, “Sam Sanderson was known around the University of Nebraska Medical Center for his enthusiasm for his research, his ability to connect with people and his larger-than-life personality.”
In his first epistle to the Corinthians, The Apostle Paul answered his question of “O grave, where is thy victory?” when he said, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
For this truth, we should all be eternally grateful.
Charlie Roberts is a former LDS bishop of the Tooele 6th Ward.