By any measure, everything was going well. The dental practice was booming. Pam and David owned a lovely home, drove nice cars, and took frequent vacations. With their spare time and money, they pursued personal hobbies, which for David included flying lessons. Soon he was an instrument-rated pilot and took the plunge to buy his own personal plane.
The couple was living the dream, flying around on weekends, visiting friends in other cities, and even flying to nearby Philadelphia for dinner or haircuts when the fancy struck.
All this was made possible by their education, hard work, grit, and…no children to drain them of funds.
But in early 1983, an unexpected event changed all that.
Lee, David’s best friend from perio school and a fellow periodontist practicing in California, was in an airport shuttle bus in Mexico when a drunk driver crossed the highway center line and slammed into the bus in a head-on collision. Lee and two others were killed.
Lee was the last person this was supposed to happen to.
He was vibrant, high on life, and a “teddy bear” friend – the kind of guy you just wanted to hug. Lee was in his late 30s, just hitting the prime of life, building his career and enjoying the fruits of his labor after many years of education.
His death was a complete shock.
Pam and David attended the funeral in California on a Tuesday in March. The trip was a whirlwind that took them from the East coast to the West coast and back again, all while they were reeling from the sudden loss of their friend whose life was not too dissimilar from their own.
As they traveled back to Pennsylvania, David reflected on a few observations he’d made in California: Prior to Lee’s untimely death, he was at the top of his career. His brand new Mercedes Turbo Diesel had been parked in front of the funeral home. He had just placed a deposit on a piece of land in an exclusive housing development. His interests and pursuits seemed appropriate for his station in life, and prior to his death, his life mirrored David’s in many ways: Make as much money as possible and spend it all on yourself!
But none of these material goods mattered now. Lee didn’t have any of them anymore. They were all left behind.
On the flight back from Lee’s funeral, Pam turned to David with a question, “I wonder where Lee is?”
David’s answer would surprise her.