“He’s gone.” Just those two little words on my cell phone screen. A message that seemed too big, too permanent for the fleeting impermanence of digital text. The end of a life marked by nothing more than a series of dots. Followed so soon after the message that said “He’s almost gone,” and the one headed the other direction saying “I’m coming home.”

Even worse, I was in a hotel room bathroom when the cell phone vibrated in my pocket to notify me that life has changed and I no longer have a father-in-law. It doesn’t seem like the kind of message you should get when you’re about to pull your pants down.

Death. It doesn’t wait for convenient, meaningful, or spiritual times to make its appearance. It shows up in the middle of the mundane, the ordinary, the every-day. While you’re at a management retreat. While you’re at 7-11 buying Slurpees.

Suddenly, in the time it takes for a heart to beat its last beat, for a text message to vibrate in a pocket, for a phone call to come from the hospital, life is no longer ordinary.

And now, forever after, September will be the month in which we lost both a son and a father.

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