It’s extremely overdue. I’ve been holding onto the idea of this blog post for quite a while… I’ve been hesitant to write it because it’s really not my story. Or, let me slightly adjust that thought and say that my story is simply a small part of the complete tale. So I’ve decided to at least touch on my part of the story – my small part of the bigger picture – and we’ll see where it goes. Okay?
It began on August 28th. Many of you probably heard the news story when it occurred, but it faded from your thoughts and memories over the following weeks as it wasn’t completely relevant to your daily lives. But on that day, Michigan State Trooper Chad Wolf died. It was a tragic accident that took his life, and a moment when every tiny situation had to line up with every other seemingly insignificant event of the day to bring about the loss of a good cop, a wonderful man, and my cousin.
As insane as it seems to say about a 38-year-old family man, when it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. An extra glass of orange juice at breakfast, and the moment would never have happened. A traffic light that turned yellow just a half-second earlier and it would have been a normal day. But it wasn’t. A car with a trailer strikes a motorcycle, and an accident becomes national news.
Chad’s death was far more than a news story to me though because he was family, and everything that I heard about it was from members of the family. And while the news stations did all they could to cover the visitations, the funeral and the grave site ceremony, I was there with family, and it was completely real.
I wasn’t as close to Chad as I should have been – that’s my fault – and it had been a few years since I had actually seen him. I should have made a call and stopped by the last few times I passed through the area. I didn’t, and then the years passed by. But I knew him well enough to know that all of the stories people told about him were true. Stories told by his friends at the reception, stories told by co-workers at the funeral, and stories told by family over meals before we left town. I’d known him as a goofy kid that we saw every so often over holidays when our families got together. Then, later on, I was incredibly impressed to see the man he grew up to be.
He always had a way of making you feel like you were the most important person in the room. If he hadn’t seen you in years, he wanted to know just what you’d been up to. If he’d seen you the day before, he’d want to know just how you were doing, no pretenses or “I’m good thanks, how are you?”. He was genuely concerned with people – their days, their lives, their growth, their feelings. You just don’t find that much in this world.
He was one of those people who seemed to be blessed to be given 36 hours to work with every day, because he could give so much of himself to everyone around him and still be an active father, a devoted husband and a Trooper who could inspire glowing, praising phone calls to his bosses from people to whom he’d just given a traffic ticket earlier that day. He was the kind of man it would be easy to resent and feel jealousy about if he just hadn’t been such a good, all around guy.
And it makes me think… You’re not guaranteed anything in this world. He was only 38. And I’m at a point in my life where I’m older than my mother was when she unexpectedly passed away. So it’s hard to know how much time any of us have to create our legacy in life. I have goals and dreams for what my life is supposed to mean, and how I’ m supposed to make the world a better place through my presence. And his life – and its abrupt ending – puts that into a whole new perspective, time-wise.
So thank you Chad. For a life well lived, for being a witness to those you had just met, and for providing an example. Now it’s time for me to kick into gear and complete everything I was created to accomplish. And to touch as many lives through my life as possible. Each and every day…