Death is at every turn lately. It has affected three folks who have commented here at least once — one of whom is a dear friend.
Within the past two weeks:
- Alvis’ uncle, age 52, died suddenly and unexpectedly,
- Jay’s best friend, age almost 30, did the same, but in completely different circumstances, and
- Carmi’s father, age 74, died suddenly.
All of this has put me in mind of the losses and near losses I have experienced. I am fortunate to have made it this far without directly experiencing anything that jolting.
Several years ago we received a wake-up call informing us that one of Shannon’s best friends, with whom she recently had reunited, had been killed in an accident. That was hard enough without the four-month wait to see how her widower — also a close friend — came out of it. He missed her funeral while he lay unconscious in a hospital bed.
My maternal grandfather died in his sleep in the very early hours of New Year’s Day, 2008. Despite the distance between us all my life, I always was close to him through letters, audio tapes sent back and forth, and faxes. Something broke in him as he watched his dear wife fade from existence before her death, but he rebounded and lived to welcome more great-grandchildren into the world.
A few years before that, we found out on Thanksgiving Day that my paternal grandmother would not be joining us because she had passed away in her sleep. I grew up seeing her a lot, and regret not spending more time keeping in touch with her as an adult. She also soldiered on after losing her one true love, who died when I was only 12 but not before they celebrated 50 years of marriage.
Shannon’s beloved aunt, like a second mother to her since she was a baby, struggled and lost against cancer back in the mid-’90’s. She was the youngest and the first of five siblings to pass on. Her loss rippled through the family and the local educational community, in which she had played a major role. Little Rock School District named a building after her.
Nearly 10 years ago my father had a heart attack. We all were fortunate that the worst casualty from that was my mother’s plan for his surprise 60th birthday party. In fact, the ensuing procedure improved his health and probably prolonged his life.
More recently my mother-in-law’s stress test revealed she needed surgical help immediately, and she, too, was given an extension.
On top of all this, death makes me think of things I will not express publicly. It’s too final for me to think about for very long.