Life is often too short. It’s too short to maintain all of the friendships you should have nurtured. It’s too short to tell people how much you care about them. It’s too short to spend meaningful time with people. And the real irony is that we only recognize these things after someone is gone. This past week has brought the issues of life and death to the forefront.
An old friend passed away today. She was a classmate in school and one of the sweetest, kindest people ever. We had not been in close touch in recent years, but had seen each other in passing frequently and talked about our families and lives. Knowing that she was dying has made me think back to our school days many years ago. We often sat together in the library during study hall, pouring over magazines and dreaming about our futures. She went on to marry her high school sweetheart and raise a family. We drifted apart.
A neighbor also passed away this past week. We were not close friends, but living just a few houses away you get to know a little bit about each other. He was just a few years older than me, was friendly and family-oriented, and suddenly he is gone. We won’t wave to him in passing anymore, or pause to chat while taking a walk.
Death brings the brevity of life into sharp focus, and forces us to reconsider the things that really matter. Family. Loved ones. Togetherness.
I have had these feelings before while mourning other losses: my father, my aunt, my grandparents, and other friends. Our lives are formed by the people who surround us. When one of those people dies, we have a natural desire to gather with others. Circle the wagons. Rally the troops. Bring people together.
It is true that death is a natural part of life. It is also true that when it’s someone your own age you always feel as though they were too young, with too much of life left unlived. But who’s to say how much is enough when it comes to life? Only God can make that decision, and we are left to decide how to cope.
For me, I choose to live whatever life I have left with the people who matter most. I choose to make time for loved ones and to spend time in purposeful pursuits – trying to make a difference for my family, friends, and community. That’s all I can do to honor the memory of those who have gone. I just pray there’s still enough time.