For the past two weeks I have wanted to share this and haven't been able to crank it out to the blog world.
Mid-March: I was out on assignment for the newspaper interviewing a women who runs a local non-profit. The women told me it was best to drop by her truck-parts business and interview her during the day. However, if she had a customer she would have to help them and than come back to the interview. Fair enough.
Six minutes into interview: A man walks in and ask to make a custom order for something on his pick-up truck. I casual listened in as the interviewee took down the man's information and quoted him on the price. He had brought his dog into the store and I patted the dogs head. The man asked when the order would be received because he would like to have it before his trip to Topeka. She said she would contact him. He left with his dog thanking the interviewee for help. The man's name was J.B.
End of March (busy deadline day in the newsroom): Police scanner screeches a semi and pick-up truck collide on north U.S. highway 54. Scanner calls for all medic units, local police, ambulance and more. The newsroom beings to busy with should we send some one (we often arrive on the scene of accidents, write a story and take photos.) The publisher and managing editor conclude no - accident is way out of town, the paper has to be finished at 5 p.m. and we can't spare anyone.
The following day: I hear a report on the radio. The man driving the pick-up was taken to the local hospital and didn't make it. One of the other reporters rights up a small story and it appears in the newspaper.
Maybe two or three days later, morning in the newsroom: Local funeral home worker comes in with a photo to be scanned for the Obituaries page. I glance at the photo - a man, about fifty, with a boy-scout about 8-years-old. The two are smiling and happy. The boy hold a trophy. The funeral worker asks me to crop the photo so only the man's neck-up is used for the notice. The name he gives me to save it is J.B. Esser. At least it is not the boy-scout I think to myself. Nothing else has clicked.
Later that day: Editing the Obituaries page - reading over the obit of J.B. Esser. Died in an automobile accident. Originally from Topeka. A father and a grandfather. Leaves behind his trusty dog. It clicked.
I had met this man about 10 days before he died. The rest of the day, my mind couldn't escape having seen this man and his dog. He was perfectly healthy, happy and seemed like a genuine guy. How fast can life be over?
I re-read the article the newspaper printed on the accident. J.B. missed a stop-sign. His pick-up collided with a semi-truck. The driver of the semi was unhurt.
While this little connection, little coincident, ironic event has made me realize more than ever how we should really live each day to the fullest - I can't help but hope J.B. made that trip to Topeka. According to the obituary his parents, sisters and brothers all resided up there. Maybe he got to have a nice time with family. Maybe he got to tell his family he loved them. I hope he did. For that boy-scout, I hope he remembers the good times with his grandfather and how happy and proud his grandfather was on the day of that photo.