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A Sad Farewell

A friend died this week. She was my wife’s best friend.

It’s been a tough week.

She was a mom. A seven month old baby boy and a nine-year old daughter. Her passing plays up on one of my own fears – dying and leaving my kids without their daddy.

At the memorial, I held her son. So innocent, his eyes wide and looking around with wonder and joy because he had no idea what had happened, how much of a sharp turn his life had just taken.

The daughter wasn’t there. She was with her dad, the ex-husband, who, due to some sort of feud, decided none of his family would attend. This also plays into my fears about dying before my kids are grown up – them being left at the mercy of others who may not behave or raise them in ways I would want.

So a sad day, a sad week, tinged with anger and disbelief.

The world has lost a very kind, very generous woman who was also a loving mother.

My wife has lost a dear friend.

A seven month old baby has lost his mother, will grow up never knowing her, never fully grasping what he lost.

A nine-year old girl will continue on, knowing exactly who she has lost, exactly how her life has changed.

I don’t know which is worse, to be that infant robbed of having memories of a mommy, or the little girl who has those memories and has seen them cut off forever.

Make no mistake, both situations are terrible and tragic and unfair. But which one is worse?

I honestly don’t know.

All I can say is that there is no justice in a world that would rob us of a friend, a confidant, a fiance, a mommy.

 
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Posted by on 22 August 2011 in Life

 

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The Real Reason I Adopted A Parrot

I’ve started thinking about death again.  I’m coming up on the three-year anniversary of the death of a friend next month, another friend of mine is dealing with a loss right now, my parrot died a year ago this month, and oh yeah, the Apocalypse was supposed to happen yesterday.  I’m actually surprised I’ve gone this long without thinking about doom and gloom.

The Fauxpocalypse doesn’t merit additional discussion here, and my friend’s grief is her own.  But I can speak to my own experiences.

When people first met my parrot, I used to joke that he’d outlive me, that I chose to have a long-lived pet so I wouldn’t have to face his death.  But I wasn’t really joking.  I was trying to cheat death, to dodge that burden anyone who has owned a pet with a brief life span has faced.  I didn’t want to have to take this buddy to the vet and make a hard decision.  He should have outlived me by a large margin.  He didn’t.  But he died before I could take him to that final vet visit, before I had to make that hard choice.  He spared me that much.

My friend’s death was completely unexpected.  Her husband, another friend, called to tell me.  Shock, pain, horror, disbelief.  My wife and I still have moments where we can’t believe she’s gone.  She was a sweet woman, a wonderful wife to my friend, and we miss her dearly.  We flew out to support my friend.  I did my best to be there for him.  I served as a pall bearer.

There is something to be said about funerals and closure.  The act of putting a person in the ground really brings it home that they are gone.  I remember after my grandfather’s death, reaching down into the hole and putting my hand on the box containing his ashes, saying goodbye to him as the earth cut off all other sound.  He was gone, and I felt like I’d done right by him, being there.

That was a long time ago, but helping put my friend to rest, carrying her for that last journey, even straightening her husband’s collar and tie shortly before leaving for the funeral, felt the same way.  Like you’ve done the closest to the right thing that can possibly be done when someone dies.  It’s not a good thing, a great thing, or even something to be celebrated.  It’s a duty, a responsibility, an honor.

It also takes a really long time to accept.  You never recover from the death of someone close to you.  You get used to it. You become accustomed to the weight on your shoulders and don’t notice it most of the time.  And if you’re lucky, you don’t face another death before that adjustment period ends.

I think about my surviving friend, about the huge void torn into his life, and I can’t imagine his pain.  But at the same time, I CAN imagine it.  I’m a father and a husband.  I know my parents are mortal and I don’t like it, but I know I’ll face their deaths someday.  But the thought of outliving my wife or kids, that’s the sort of stomach-churning dread that keeps me up at night.  It is so unthinkable I simply can’t face it.

Some deaths no one should have to face.

 
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Posted by on 23 May 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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