As if I needed any more evidence that life is too short, I was provided with some on Sunday, July 22nd, that I would have much preferred to do without. My old friend, occasional colleague, and frequent shooting buddy Paul Hyder died that morning after suffering the second of two strokes in the span of a little over a week. I had just sent him a get-well card, and was idly wondering when I could get him back out on the shooting range, and what help I might be able to give him, when his wife Marti notified many of us of his passing. Paul was barely 56.
Paul and I had worked together as engineers as the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder Colorado over ten years ago and discovered that we had many shared interests: technology, science fiction, firearms, and a warped sense of humor. Mrs. Overclock (a.k.a. Dr. Overclock, Medicine Woman) and I were happy to be frequent recipients of he and his wife's gracious hospitality at their mountain home in Evergreen, where we enjoyed the company of their eclectic group of friends. We liked going out to dinner with Paul and Marti, and I for one always took advantage of his interest in gourmet food and wine. Paul was my go-to guy for tips on great new restaurants.
Paul and I were both members of a private outdoor shooting range in the foothills, where several times a year we would meet for a morning of shooting or to take a tactical class together. We did all the usual guy things: blowed stuff up real good, did tactical drills together, discussed who had the cooler firearm (I did), who was the better shot (he was), and just generally enjoyed each other's company while being outdoors in the great state of Colorado. Our interest in this past-time was such that I vividly remember us going one day in the dead of winter when it was so cold, we could only shoot a few rounds before retiring to his truck to defrost. Common sense finally prevailed and we beat a tactical retreat to the nearest good restaurant.
It will take some time for me to get used to the idea of life without Paul Hyder: his quirky personality, his mountain-man appearance, his sense of humor, his deep technical knowledge of networking, and his Glock 10mm. When my mom died in 2006, I am a little ashamed to admit that in the weeks and months afterwards, I found myself thinking about her more than I did when she was alive. When my friend and colleague Mark Uris died just a few months ago (also at age 56), I found it to be true again. I'm sure it will be the same for Paul.
We should never take our family and friends for granted. All things are temporary.