They say deaths come in threes.
For me last week, that cliche came true.
First, it was Ben Brush - the father of former State Sen. Joey Brush, and a successful builder, father and grandfather in his own right.
I'd known Mr. Ben for years, covering some of his work - including his participation on various boards and associations - while I was working in Columbia County.
But I knew his son much better. I consider Joey a friend, and I know how much he looked up to his father. He'd talk about his father in reverent tones, reminiscing about the lessons he'd learned from the old man.
When his father battled health issues over the years, Joey remained upbeat.
That battle ended last week for Mr. Ben, just as it began for the rest of the Brush family, especially Joey. The tears continue and the pain continues. But the memories remain. And that's enough to buoy them for years to come.
The same day Mr. Ben passed away, so did my neighbor and old friend, Mary Jean Register.
Like Mr. Ben, she's been battling health problems for a while, but that never makes it any easier.
I'll always remember her love of hugs, how she'd grab my hand when we saw each other and spoke. Her grand smile. Her loving spirit.
My prayers are with Mr. Mike and the rest of the Register family during this time. I hope their memories of Mrs. Mary Jean bring a smile when the tears come.
I couldn't hold back my own tears last Tuesday evening when I heard that Reesie Wells had suddenly passed away the day before.
I first spoke to Mrs. Reesie a few years ago - right after Judge Gene Wells got sick. She had called the office with a question about their subscription, and 30 minutes later I hung up the phone.
She and I spoke a couple times a month while her husband was at home recovering, and then several more times once he returned to work.
Her world revolved around that crotchety, old man, and his around hers. A few years ago, he said he wanted to retire so he could spend some time traveling with his wife.
I sat in the sanctuary of Second Baptist Church last Thursday and heard Rev. Ron Drawdy remember the woman who cried at old hymns.
One of the things Rev. Drawdy said during Mrs. Reesie's funeral struck me: As we are born, so we begin to die.
I beg to differ.
As we are born, so we begin to live.
We begin to love.
We begin to praise.
We begin to smile.
And, for those of us who knew Mr. Ben, Mrs. Mary Jean and Mrs. Reesie, we hurt.