The pastor made a good point.

The pastor made a good point.

He cautioned the congregation to take nothing, even the next day, for granted.

That the congregation had gathered for the funeral of a 28-year-old drove home the point. The young man had died not only an untimely death but a violent one, too.

It was easy to recall a circumstance much closer to home.

The teenage son was arguing with his father. The conversation, as I was told, didn’t end well. Hours later, the father, my uncle, suffered a heart attack and died. I haven’t asked my cousin about that day. I don’t want to know how he felt then. I don’t need to ask how he feels now.

In this line of work, you get to see examples every day of how fragile life is and how quickly it can disappear, like a wisp of smoke … or one headlight that turns into two way too quickly.

It was a Friday night. I was just drifting off to sleep when the phone rang. It was a reporter from the newspaper down the road. She listened to police scanners much more than I did. She said the wreck was just down the street from my apartment. She used the vernacular that indicated someone had died.

I couldn’t get close to the crash, so I made a left and then a right and then a right, bringing me right up close to the steaming, mangled vehicles.

I saw the reporter talking to an EMT.

“So where’s the dead guy?” I asked like a complete jerk.

“Over there.

I looked over in the weeds. There, on the side of a dark street, was the first dead person I’d ever seen, outside of a funeral home.

Seemed like somebody should have put a sheet over him or something. Surely someone would.

That was the first time I’d seen sudden death up close and in color. Wouldn’t be anywhere close to the last.

There was the guy who sat down behind his running vehicle with a fifth of Jack Daniels and waited for the fumes to do their work. No one found him for five days. The coroner asked me to help put him in the freezer. There’s no smell like the smell of death.

But that guy chose his time.

The three guys driving down U.S. Highway 49 didn’t.

According to the truck driver behind them, the SUV started drifting across the center line and never wavered as it veered off the roadway and headed into the only tree for a mile in either direction.

Murders, suicides, vehicle crashes — they all remind that a beating heart can stop for a multitude of reasons, and many of them don’t have anything to do with doctor-prescribed medications and premium medical care.

One more story. The one that I think about whenever someone reminds me that no one guaranteed us anything.

The guy was going to work early one morning. He was driving across a causeway on Lake Dardanelle. The guard rails on either side of the road were there to make sure no one drove off into the lake. Good idea.

Hurtling toward this young man was a tractor-trailer hauling a bulldozer.

The guard rails on the right side of the road indicated that the truck driver careened from the right side of the road over into the left lane. At some point, the dozer flew off the trailer and landed in the left lane, ostensibly putting up a 10-ton roadblock.

Thinking about the guy driving the little car, I can only imagine his split-second choice.

Drive into a bulldozer or take his chances with an 18-wheeler.

Lose-lose. The truck ended up on top of his car.

The pastor said we can’t take anything for granted. Even tomorrow.

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Rick Fahr is publisher of the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway. His e-mail is