A knock on his door startled him. He wasn’t expecting anybody, certainly not at this time of night. When he opened the door, he was shocked to see Tigerclaw standing there. Tigerclaw was obviously not his real name, it was his online screen name. They had met each other years ago on a mutual friend’s website. Through messages and emails, they learned that they had a lot in common, and over the years, they had maintained their friendship.
The two of them had never met in person, however. They lived on opposite sides of the country. But, through the miracle of modern technology, the vast divide between them all but disappeared. Social media allowed them to keep tabs on each other, share photos of themselves and their families, and stay up to date on each other’s activities.
They had talked a couple of times before about meeting each other in the real world, but nothing ever came of it. They each had their own lives to lead and it never provided them the time they needed to make such a trip possible. So, how was Tigerclaw there? And where was his family? When they talked about meeting each other, their families were always involved.
“What are you doing here?” he asked Tigerclaw. “This is such a surprise.”
“I know it’s late,” Tigerclaw responded, “and I hope I didn’t wake anyone, but I’m leaving soon and I wanted to visit you before I go.”
He knew Tigerclaw’s words didn’t make sense, but he stepped aside and let him into his house. The two of them spent all night talking, laughing, watching movies, and generally just enjoying each other’s company. When the morning light came, Tigerclaw got up to leave. “I wish I didn’t have to go,” Tigerclaw said. “It was nice to spend this time with my family before I left.”
He chuckled. “I’m not your family. We just met tonight.”
“That doesn’t matter. You’re still my brother.”
Before he could respond to Tigerclaw, a loud noise hit his ear. He jumped up, slapping the snooze button on his alarm clock as he did so. It was all a dream, he laughed softly to himself. He laid back down and hit the snooze button two more times before he finally got out of bed.
The rest of his morning was routine. He got showered, shaved, dressed, and got the kids to school before he headed off to work. Lunchtime came and he pulled out his phone to send Tigerclaw a message about the dream that he had. Strangely, he saw that he had received a text from Tigerclaw right around the same time that his alarm went off. For some reason, it didn’t give him a notification on his main screen. A fleeting thought popped into his head about how strange it would be if Tigerclaw had the same dream as him.
But that wasn’t what the text was about.
It was a mass text sent out to everyone who Tigerclaw had in his phone. The message was from Tigerclaw’s wife telling everybody that her husband had passed away.
At first he didn’t believe it. He certainly didn’t want to believe it, but he eventually learned that Tigerclaw had really passed away the day before from an undetected heart condition. The news devastated him.
He wanted to take the time to go to Tigerclaw’s funeral, but the responsibilities he had to his job and his family prevented it. Still, he felt like he should do something. So, in a manner he felt was fitting, he went online and posted his words for the departed.
“Though we were separated by the vast divide, you are my brother and you will be with me. Always.”