Have you ever had a situation in your life where your life just…stopped? I mean really stopped. Like-you-drop-everything-and-do-nothing-but-deal-with-something-that-commands-all-of-your-attention stops.
So often we watch people we know deal with a tragedy and never imagine it could happen to us…until it does. The unimaginable happened to our family recently, and, although it is painful to write about, it helps me process my thoughts and feelings. I want to share a few of them with you because life is short and sometimes a good reminder of that helps us value the time we have together more.
For those of you who do not know, my 17-year-old niece died recently in a house fire. The details are unimportant. The fact that she is no longer able to graduate high school, go to college, become a vet, get married, and have children of her own is important. The fact that my sister, her husband, and my other niece must figure out a way to move forward without their beloved youngest daughter and sister is important. The fact that the rest of us are just stunned into speechlessness is important. None of us know what to say or do. None of us know how to make this better. All of us are struggling to make sense of this tragedy. We are all having to figure out a way to move forward.
Death is something that all of us must deal with at some point. All of us know someone who has died and all of us will face it ourselves. It is inevitable and it is immutable. Nobody is exempt.
Death is an intensely personal experience and no two people experience it the same way. I’ve always wondered why that is the case, though. Why does one death affect us more than another? And, if we don’t feel as bad about one death, does that make us a bad person? As was mentioned before, we all know that death is inevitable, but I would argue that we are never really ready for it. Even when someone with a protracted illness dies, are we ever really ready to have that loved one die?
All I can say that is nobody was ready for my niece to die. Nobody expected it and nobody wanted it to happen. Our lives will never be the same. Our lives have just…stopped.
So, where am I going with all of this? Go hug your loved ones. Tell them that you love them. Don’t get so fixated on the future that you forget to relish each day with those you love. Don’t let your petty differences or annoyances get in the way of that love, because life is too short. We have all heard that term, but I don’t think that any of us truly knows what that means until someone close to you dies suddenly.
We will miss my niece immeasurably, and, while we do that, we are learning how to live with death and learning how to begin our lives again.