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Three deaths, eight days

We forget that we may not have a tomorrow.

Religion is a great comfort when dealing with death.

How many times have you read or heard the statement “Live Life to the Fullest?” How many times have you vowed to do this and then forgotten about it after a few days? It’s like the consciousness raising services, EST in the 80s and the mindfulness of today. All of it is helpful to remind you of your importance and power but most of us sink back into our daily life and forget about our Aha moments.

This month I had a wake-up call. Three deaths in eight days. 

First my neighbor who had been sick for years but hung on past the point where we thought he was in immediate danger. 

Then my friend’s husband who had turned his life around multiple times ended up on a ventilator after a heart attack, and died the day before his daughter’s wedding. Finally two boys from a University of Maryland fraternity where my daughter goes to college who hydroplaned on a rainswept road in Ohio on the way back from a football game. 

As a girl who lost her mother at 13, for decades I did whatever I wanted because I always believed I would die young. So I travelled and spent and loved big and lost, knowing that no matter how little I had I could always make and find more. But as I got older and had children I began living for them, particularly when I had to raise them alone.

In the fall of 2018, I sent my youngest off to college and began to try to figure out what I was and where I had gone. I had trouble finding work, I was blue, I could not find anything that excited me except for men briefly shining, then snuffed out by me or them like a match.

After my neighbor’s funeral they had a lunch where those who knew him best got up and spoke of him. All the speakers talked about how happy he was with his job as an EMT, his family, his life.  His eldest son who is barely 30, came with his seven week old son who would never know his grandfather, spoke with candor and dignity about the man who went to every sporting event where he played and cheered above and beyond the call of parenthood. His younger son, who grew up with mine, spoke through his tears of a father who was always there for him and everyone else, how he was the go to man for moms in the neighborhood.

I went to bed for the rest of the day, and wasted more time. The memorial service for my friend’s husband was postponed.

A couple of days later my daughter called from college late at night terribly upset. One of the boys in Ohio had died instantly, another was probably paralyzed and the rest were in critical condition. She asked what she could do. I said bring food and just be there for them. We made over 100 brownies from my grandmother’s recipe which she said always made her feel better. The boys were surprised and rallied with a handful of smiles.

But the real lesson of the three deaths is that we need to live our lives to the fullest. Tell the people we love that we adore them. Get rid of those who only make us sad or angry. Find your path and stick to it.

I plan to spend the next two decades thriving on whatever path I set. How about you?

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- MARCUS AURELIUS

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