I will call them "the Smith family." "Smith" is not their real name, but I want to respect their privacy. Most who have known me a long time will know about whom I am writing.
The Smiths and my parents were best friends as I grew up. I am an only child - the Smiths have lots of kids. I just went to their big house and blended in whenever I got the chance.
I was with one of the Smith daughters the night I broke my elbow and ended my baseball career.
When we made a move and sold a house before school was out, we lived with the Smiths for several weeks.
I could go on about the nature of my relationship with this family, but you get the point.
Dr. Smith died this week. He was 80 years old. I understand that these things happen. It is sad, but it is a part of life, and I am at that stage where many of my friends' parents are starting to pass on.
But the Smith family is different. In the last 10 years...
... their son-in-law was sued. I represented him. He won, but the process was debilitating. He had done nothing wrong, but he suffered the indignity of accusations directed toward his personal and professional competence.
... they lost a granddaughter to a drunk driver. She was brilliant and funny and beautiful and completely innocent, and her life was snuffed out by idiocy.
... their daughter and her family lost their house to Katrina. Washed away. Nothing left.
... they lost another grandchild - this time a boy - and a son-in-law to yet another drunk driver. Again, no fault at all on the part of the Smith family. Complete lunacy.
I am pretty good about philosophizing about why bad things happen to good people, and I think that my answers make some sense in the abstract. I don't think Dr. Smith would argue with them.
Still, as yet another blow strikes this good family that means the world to me, the philosophies and the answers don't satisfy. They seem, in the words of the great Old Testament Teacher, to be a chasing of the wind. My humanity wants the good guys to win and the wicked to suffer. My world, however, does not work that way.
Dr. Smith would have found that Teacher's approval, for he loved God and obeyed God's commandments.
You know Smiths in your life - good people who, for some reason or for no reason, appear to be special targets for what life has to throw at all of us.
For today, I am not thinking it through. I am not philosophizing. I am not trying to satisfy myself or anyone else with so-called answers. I am just sad.
Say a prayer for my friends the Smiths and for whoever the Smiths are in your world. Life happens to all of us, eventually. You will be a Smith some day, and you will covet the prayers and cares of your friends then too.
Smith family, I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, and I am sure that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it at the day of Christ.