Elizabeth Taylor died last week. There was an abundance of video celebrations and memorials to her life. No one I know met her. She never sat at my table, or attended a schutzhund trial. Her passing doesn't leave any holes in my heart but I still mourn the fact that an icon is gone. I know that there are people who did know her, and loved her dearly.
Last week a Wisconsin soldier, Spc. Justin Ross, from Green Bay,in addition to others serving in our armed forces, was killed in service. I didn't know him, either. I saw his family on television and cried to hear their tribute of their son. He died doing a job that protects my freedoms and I feel that loss.
A Fond du Lac police officer, Craig Birkholz, was also laid to rest last week, killed by a man who fired his displaced anger from a gun and then shot himself. Another officer and his police K9 were also wounded but are recovering. Fond du Lac is not far from here and although I did not personally know him or the wounded officer, we are all Brothers and Sisters in the badge. The community of fellow officers that I walk in, mourns that loss but are healing by helping Craig's family and reminding us to stay strong and SURVIVE.
Another man, loved by many, joined the list of those taken from us last week: Mike Scheiber. Mike was a long-time member of MVSV, one of the schutzhund clubs in our North Central Region. Mike and his dog, Jett, won the Regional SchH3 Championship last fall and I think everyone recognized and applauded Mike's dedication to the task and that the "little guy" could prevail. He was not a professional trainer, and worked very hard for his success. He had a wry sense of humor that sometimes left you wondering if he realized he had said something so hilariously funny. Mike was attending a training seminar at his club when he passed away.
Any time you are witness to the death of someone you care about, it is difficult. It may be somewhat selfish of me to imagine that it would be wonderful to die in pursuit of what you love. I know it must be difficult for the survivors, but to have lived many years and leave this world, not at work or in a car accident, or even as a result of lingering illness, would be a blessing, in my book.
We all become saints after death, and honoring the memory does not mean we pretend the person we lost is now somehow now more than a human. It does mean that EVERYONE is loved by SOMEONE. When death touches our life, think first of the honor and the pleasure it was to know that person. Consider smiles, laughter and shared experiences without which your life would be a paler shade. If there are lessons to be learned, hold those with gratitude. Perhaps it means seizing the moment more often; telling someone you love them; leaving a legacy for your children.
A common thread that has emerged in conversations about Mike was his generousity of spirit and being a friend to new and old members in the sport. He visited many clubs to attend seminars and was a vocal cheerleader for the success of his friends. If we take that goodness, and apply it in our own lives it will be time better spent than mourning. In mourning we feel sorry for ourselves, for our loss. True, we not only deserve but need that time to own the emptiness of a friendship that did not live to see our old age but if we must be careful not to take up residency there. There are people who need us. Who need us to help them in the sport, to welcome them to our fields and be the smile that greets us at seminars.
Every death reminds us that our time here is finite. Don't let the opportunity pass by to learn from loss. Ask yourself "what would Mike do?" Step up to the grill, and be that person.
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