A week ago a long-time friend died and his sudden death was unexpected. He had been very ill a few years ago and survived somewhat miraculously, but the ordeal left him weak. Later he suffered a great heartache more mental than physical, but in recent days, including the morning of his death, he seemed upbeat to a friend who spoke to him. They planned a future fishing trip with a level of enthusiasm and optimism that had been lacking since he first became ill. Once again, he was excited for the future, but it ended for him just hours later.
Another friend, a feisty old cowboy is having a tough time on the trail.. A little less than two years ago, he was run over by a heifer that was blind in one eye and panicked as it came out of a squeeze chute. Three vertebrae were cracked and have caused him constant pain and an inability to stand straight up or even rest comfortably. He stubbornly pressed on as we expected he would, but subsequent falls resulted in broken ribs on both sides, a nose broken twice, a concussion or two and a femur that gave way, resulting in his most recent crash. This stretch of trail has been exceedingly rough on him. He is an old cowboy, and he worries about his cows and ranch. That is as natural for him as it is for us to care about our friends.
Whether sudden or gradual, smooth or rough, none of us know what lies ahead on our own trails. We can plan some things, but not where it will lead us, or how, where or when we will come to trails end.