I recently lost a good friend in a tragic accident. Once the shock starts to wear off these things tend to get you thinking about life and how you’re spending it.
When traumatized, my habit has been to turn to nature for answers. Since this is the first year Grant and I have spent in Montana through the spring I had lots of opportunities to observe Mother Nature in action and try to absorb her lessons.
One of my first impressions was the transformation between winter and spring. Even as the ice crept out of the lake and the last small banks of crusty snow were slowly receding in the shadiest areas, life was already bursting forth. You could almost watch the leaves advance from the tiny buds on the branches.
Within a week, the grass, which had been completely absent, was an inch tall. A week later it was six inches tall. It was as if nature has the precognition of the brevity of summer and rushes forward to stretch into the sun-drenched days and soak up every moment of bliss before the end of the season once again brings winter’s cold, dark days.
Most of us, me included, tend to take life for granted. We rush along through our days, often absorbed in mindless tasks, our thoughts firmly rooted in the past or the future, rarely in the now. Our lives are the short summer—the fleeting few months during which the sun shines and all the living is crammed into that one brief lifetime.
Many insects live only a day or two. Small animals get a few years. For us, if we’re lucky, we get to experience a “summer” lasting a century. Yet in the great scheme of things, that century is little more than an insect’s lifespan, when measured against the earth’s history.
Inevitably, winter comes, there is death and dormancy and a period of rest.
So why bother? Those of us left behind want answers. We want to know why. Why even come into life if summer eventually ends and all that is left is the cold, dark winter, the sorrow of loss and the pain of grief?
As always, nature holds the answers to these ancient questions. Under the snow lie the seeds of the next season. Just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean they are not there. The leaves shed from the tree in the fall provide mulch, nutrients and habitat to soil life. Nature is not dead, just preparing for the next explosion of life force. At times like these it is good to see the expression of the divine as even in death, there is life.
As a species we are growing, expanding and constantly evolving. As they say, we stand on the shoulders of the great men who came before us. Each of us is contributing to the evolution of all. Each life, long or short, matters. We are all connected in more ways than we realize. Even after death, we live on in our children our grandchildren, and the many people we touch during our lifetime.
My friend was the epitome of life force. He lived each day of his summer to the fullest, and left a long legacy of service to others. Although he is gone, his loving influence continues to impact those who knew him. He died doing something he loved.
This post is dedicated to my friend Steve Benavidez and his loving wife Neva. Steve, you are missed by all. Rest easy under the snow, my friend. We’ll meet again in the spring.
Obituary for Stephen E. Benavidez
Age 55, Stephen unexpectedly passed away on Thursday, April 3, 2014. He is survived by his wife, Neva M. King of Albuquerque; mother, Eva M. Parker; children, Allison N. Parraz, Leslie S. Benavidez; grandchildren Dominic, Jude, Addison, and Ruby; siblings Bernadette Vadurro, Ben Benavidez, Annette Stephens, and Anthony Benavidez; many nieces, nephews and friends. Steve was preceded in death by his father, Nap Benavidez and nephew; Michael Ortiz. Steve proudly served as a Sergeant in the United States Air Force. He was a parishioner at Risen Savior Catholic Community and formerly a parishioner, lector, Eucharistic Minister, Scholarship Committee Member, and Youth Group Minister at Aquinas Newman Center. He was active in his profession as a Project Manager Team Leader for SW District, Trane, with an MM98 Mechanical Licensure. Steve was a former president of the NM Chapter of the Association of Energy Engineers; member and scholarship chairman of ASHRAE; and served as a committee member at CNM. He selflessly donated 70+ gallons of blood in his lifetime to United Blood Services and during his military service. In addition, he gave one of his kidneys to his brother. Steve was a NAUI certified scuba diver since 1979. He was a competitive racquetball player, earning first place state titles in 2010 and 2011, and second place in 2013. He coached his two daughters in little league and coached/played competitive slow pitch softball, leading his team to an undefeated season (16-0). Always a loyal fan of the New Mexico Lobos Basketball team and the Dallas Cowboys, Steve loved sports throughout the years. He was passionate about many facets of life. Since the age of 13 he walked 30+ years to Santuario de Chimayo, a 26 mile pilgrimage. He was known for his infectious laugh and humor. He always lit up a room with his smile. His kind and generous nature made him a leader by example. Steve was a very intelligent man who loved to read. Always a gentleman, he never missed an opportunity to cherish his wife, Neva, and his love for her was evident to all. Being a grandfather meant the world to him. He was his grandson Dominic’s role model and he never missed an opportunity to show his love and support. The legacy Steve leaves behind is an enduring love for his wife, family and friends. Rosary will be recited Thursday, April 10, 2014, 6:00 p.m. at FRENCH – Wyoming. Friends may visit beginning at 5:00 p.m. Mass will be celebrated Friday, April 11, 2014, 10:00 a.m., at Risen Savior Catholic Community, 7701 Wyoming Blvd. NE. Interment will follow at 2:15 p.m. at Santa Fe National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Stephen E. Benavidez Scholarship for Energy Engineers. Checks may be mailed to Attn: NMAEE, 2600 American Rd. SE, Suite 360, Rio Rancho, NM 87124.