Death takes a life— but not a friend

The 2019 holiday season was inspiring, festive and full of good cheer.

2020? Not so much.

Starting at Thanksgiving and ending on New Year's Day, there are several holiday movies on DVD we watch, and "It's A Wonderful Life" is always at the top of the stack.

Last year, the iconic Frank Capra classic that showcases the value of friendship, helped us reminisce and celebrate the remembrance of a wonderful New Year's eve that was spent with cherished friends Mark (an Auschwitz survivor) and his wife Rhoda on a QE-2 holiday cruise.

This year, the pandemic, along with the necessary isolation and depressing changes to our lives, strangely has me pulling my Jimmy Stewart favorite out in October and set it on the TV stand. My wife asks me why I'm taking this holiday classic out of the closet so early. I said, "I don't really know.”

Later, I knew why.

"I bring you sad news,” was the email's opening line.

It was the kind of first sentence I wasn't expecting from my newly reconnected past Michigander friend Don, now living in California.

Earlier this year, Don and I started exchanging email notes, reminiscing of days gone by in The Great State of Michigan where we both grew up, and also Kettering Medical Center where we both worked. I was excited to share with Don some of my past stories from Michigan experiences, like "The Colored Print Shirt,” "High & Tight,” and "The Super Bowl Of All Super Bowls.” Our emails had been positive, fun and a recollection for us both of a time when we were young and invincible, and when the State of Michigan was a vibrant popular place to be.

In this unanticipated email,