By John Pierce

Friday morning’s breakfast was the same as usual — egg and cheese on a whole grain bagel and hazelnut coffee — but different.

Sitting in Panera Bread in Chattanooga, I was contemplating the previous evening’s gathering of family and friends and the memorial service for my brother that would soon follow.

Rather than burying my nose in my laptop work as usual, I quietly reflected on how fragile and short life seems to be from such a perspective.

Having been around old friends and family, and in places where I lived for the first two decades of my existence, my recollections and efforts to grasp more of life’s reality were well fueled.

Experience after experience from my childhood and youth flooded my mind, wringing out any bad to allow only the best memories to linger.

My thoughts were not only on my brother but so many others whose lives impacted mine — but who are no longer around. Time never seemed more fleeting — and without any means of slowing it down.

The rear-view mirror seemed bigger and brighter than the windshield of life.

Then, suddenly, a young man burst through the doors as the day was just dawning — disrupting the library-like quietness. Pride and energy exuded from his bright smile and quick steps.

He was on an important mission.

“My wife just had a baby,” he exclaimed. “And she wants a chocolate croissant.”

His hospital-issued top was imprinted with the word “COACH” — and was stained with evidence of new life.

Daddy duty takes on many forms. Assignment One — after assisting with delivery — was to get an exhausted momma her breakfast of choice.

And it had better be chocolate.

We early-bird strangers at Panera shared in his joy. And the experience aided my reflection on the circle of life.

Newness of life is to be celebrated. The end of earthly living is to be well marked.

For there is life; there is death; and there is life eternal.

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