An old and dear friend lost her husband yesterday. Walking together to his work, she must have watched as he fell to the ground with a heart attack, his second in two years. He was dead by the time they arrived at the hospital.
He was younger than my husband, only a few years older than I am. And somehow, those two things — my friend’s loss of her beloved, and his relative youth — make this very personal.
All death is personal, of course. To someone. Donne was absolutely right: Any man’s death diminishes me. Except that it doesn’t feel the same. The death of most distant strangers is just that — distant. Completely off our radar. By 2:30 today, there had been about 94,000 deaths across the world. And I felt none of them like this one yesterday.
Life is always a gamble. We have no idea what’s just around the corner. Another friend told her FB friends yesterday that her routine colonscopy (she’s not even 50) turned up pre-cancerous polyps. Had she put off the colonoscopy a few more years, the polyps would have killed her. I could tell a similar story.
I like to think I live my life fully — trying hard to pay attention to both the moments and the spaces in between each one. But my family is prone to all kinds of bad health (Alzheimer’s, diabetes, Parkinson’s, heart disease, kidney disease: we should really not reproduce!), and I know my time may well be shorter than I’d like.
But then, isn’t it always?
So I’m telling each of you: take a moment to go outside and look up. Breathe deeply, then go hug the nearest loved one. Send a card (did that today), email a note. Phone a friend. But don’t take this day — or any other — for granted. Time runs aways from us.