Since July, three people in my family or close to those in my family have died. We all die. Everyone we know will eventually die. We understand this, yet when it happens unexpectedly we wonder why? Could it have been prevented?
My cousin’s wife died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 48. We learned this while at the yearly family gathering on the Shenandoah. It was also the hottest day of the year, somewhere over 103F. She and her family had not attended, and while she was home, she mowed the lawn and then pulled weeds.
She was retired from the State Police as is my cousin. That’s where they met. She was intelligent, had a wry sense of humor and was an all around wonderful person. The kind of person who volunteered and gave of herself to family and community. She left behind a husband, triplets and an adopted son, and numerous family members.
It has been said that if she hadn’t mowed the lawn, or if she had attended the family gathering, she would still be alive. But we can’t know that. All we know is this wonderful woman died unexpectedly and is gone.
Last month the husband of a niece-in-law died of cancer. He was 50. Born in Belfast Ireland, he had been in this country for over 25 years. Managed his own company. He was the kind of person who made you smile as soon as you caught sight of him, because he was funny, and you enjoyed being around him. Kind. Caring. A wonderful husband and father.
He wasn’t a smoker, never had been a smoker, so his doctor probably didn’t consider cancer when he heard about the throat complaints, trouble swallowing. He was treated for reflux. For a long while. The cancer spread and was finally detected, but too late.
It was said that if the cancer had been detected right away, he might still be alive. But we can’t know that for sure.
Today I attended the funeral for a 31-year-old woman. She was a close friend of my youngest daughter, and I had known this woman for more than half of her life. I really liked her, and was proud of how she handled her life, the way she matured and admired her utter enthusiasm for living. She followed after me and became a massage therapist. I was very proud of her for that accomplishment, and kept thinking I needed to make an appointment to show my support. Well, it’s too late for that.
She died in a car accident. She was a passenger and the car hit a pole. She wasn’t wearing her seat belt. She was a smart woman. Why was if off? Had she unlatched it to turn to the back seat and look for something? Take her coat off? Did she drop something and just had to retrieve it?
It is said that had she been wearing her seat belt she wouldn’t have died. I don’t know.
I do know that our lives and those of the people we love are short. A long and healthy life is not a given for any of us. So, I propose that the next time we say good-bye to someone we love, we tell them, I LOVE YOU. They will look at you funny, or there may be a silence on their end of the phone, or they may be annoyed. Phffft.
Know that the last thing they heard from you was, I LOVE YOU.