Reflections and Virtual Escape
Today has been a tough day. This morning we laid to rest a friend of mine and to many. Bob was a vital part of our group of four men who have, for the past 18-20 years, been doing a Bible Study program. As the “senior” member of our group, we often asked him what the correct answers were for faith questions that really had no right or wrong answers to them. For years on end Bob has picked me up and brought me back from the Bible studies. He and one of his sons introduced me to smelt fries. And he was regularly sharing bird sightings with me.
Bob was a quiet man that, after our friendship matured, was brave enough to show a tear or two when our study subjects warranted or if our follow-up conversations “hit home.” I knew Bob was sincere from Day One with him, but even more so after he showed emotions, albeit subtly.
Bob and I shared a pact… he would not lead our Bible study with the opening prayer until after I did it. Time after time for year after year, after I declined the request to lead with prayer Bob was asked to do it. His response was the same and so simple, “…I am after Kip…” This morning, after leaving the cemetery, I thought to myself – “We did it Bob. You did not have to lead the prayer. You made it to your grave without doing it!”
The reality of Bob’s absence has not fully set in yet. Due to COVID we have not been able to meet for months. With Bob in a better place now, I am not sure what the future holds for our men’s group. Should we continue to meet? Bob would want that, yet any time all four of us could not study together, we did not meet. Should we not meet now that our group is forever incomplete? Bob would not want that, yet it will not be the same. Bob’s seat at the table will forever be empty. The three of us still around have a decision to make.
Bob’s death leaves a huge hole in many lives and hearts. Our selfish side wishes he was here with us. Yet, why would we want his discomfort with his illness to continue to impact his life? Death is difficult to accept, yet in some aspects death is a relief. Bob’s suffering has ended, suffering he seldom mentioned.
Bob was a man of powerfully strong faith. I know where he is now. There is no more pain, no more nausea. Now Bob has perfect times with people who left before him. I can see Bob meeting up with Vic so many others of his friends and family from over the years.
We will get by, we will adapt, and we will carry on. Life has changed forever, but we have jobs to do. We will take it from here Bob. Your job is complete and you did it well.
Thank you for your friendship Bob.
After work today I went for a drive to clear my head. Had it not been cold and rainy, a quiet paddle on the river would have been ideal, but that was not to be. As I drove I thought about the day, about Bob, about my life as it is now and how I would change things if I knew I had little time left. That is something we should act on anyway since everyday is a gift and we never know when our ride on the dirtball will end. I was having “deep thought” moments.
On several occasions while driving I saw white birch trees. That species is my favorite tree and one that I always enjoy seeing. Today I stopped to photograph a couple of the trees. The brief glimpses of the white birches took me to the lake shore wilderness of Northern Minnesota or to segments of the Greenstone and Minong Ridges on Isle Royale in Lake Superior. The white bark took me away for just a few seconds – to paddling my canoe with loons or backpacking with a heavy load, but enjoying every step. For just a few seconds my mind was focused on something beautiful – on white birch trees and all that they symbolize.