Tuesday, May 17, 2016

the trouble is, you think you have time


I have a pretty matter-of-fact attitude about death. People die, and if they were important to you, you never stop missing them. It might lessen with time, but that missing...it will always be there. I don't think our loved ones ever really leave us and that their spirit lives on in many ways. I expect my grandparents and parents to die before me. I know it will be hard but I also know that that's how it's supposed to go. Life, you know...none of us get out of it alive.

When a peer dies, it is more...unsettling? I'm not sure if that's the word I want, and I'm just writing without editing so apologies if it doesn't come across as intended. 

This weekend MFD and I lost a friend we've had for over 25 years. Mike was a truly unique person, interesting and genuine, creative and warm, weird in a great way. Simply put, we were friends...through junior high and high school and college, less actively after that but the kind of friendship where while we didn't often seek each other out, we were happy to find ourselves in the same place and to share a laugh and conversation. In this season of our lives we settled comfortably into being peripheral friends with a solid history. There's a lot to say about Mike and I am not so arrogant to think I'd do him justice. There are many others much closer and more qualified than me. Suffice to say the world lost a bright and sweet soul this weekend and the fact that his unique persona and penchant for kindness and friendship will no longer be out there in this world has been hard to swallow.

Since he wasn't in my inner circle, I frankly wasn't expecting it to hit me so hard, especially since I knew he was sick. Of course I expected the heavy heart for his family and close friends. He was young, he suffered with a rare and painful cancer, and he was taken from them too soon. My heart is indeed heavy for his people. And angry. I'm always angry when the good ones go.

There were good emotions too - I was glad that I made some solid memories with him in the past five years. I was happy when so many people from the parts of his life I didn't know well shared stories and photos of him. It was so nice to see how many people he touched with his huge heart.

I was comforted by a sense of community when the sadness and disbelief I felt was echoed by my schoolmates. Across the board, whether people shared many years with him, or just a class or a chance encounter, I saw the loss I felt reflected in others. It is hard to lose a good one, whether you last spoke with them yesterday or 20 years ago. When your heart is hurting and you keep leaking tears you are surprised to be shedding, it's nice to know we are not out here marooned on our islands. Through the years and miles between us, we are all connected. Sometimes in celebration. Sometimes in grief.

Someone our age that we grew up walking halls with is no longer out there walking earthly halls. We're not 16 anymore, even though we feel like it inside. It calls your own mortality into question. I certainly hope that I have a lot of life left to live, but the truth is, I don't know that. None of us do. 

I spent a lot of time Sunday reminiscing and thinking. Most of my thoughts were too young, too young, too young. Which naturally proceeds to introspection. If I died tomorrow, would I be happy with how I spent my last day, week, month, or year? 

I'm reminded not to wait to do what I want to do, not to make people guess how I feel about them, not to let too long go by before I reach out to someone I've been thinking of, not to waste energy on things and people that don't matter, not to waste time doing things I don't want to do, not to think too much and just go with my gut, not to turn my back on someone who needs help, not to miss opportunities to spend time with people and do things that do matter, not to simply exist but really to live. The overarching theme: not to wait. 

I already try to live my life like this, but every time someone dies I feel the need to re-examine, to readjust. And the need is more urgent when a peer dies.

The best way I know of to honor those who don't get the privilege to age along with me is to live a full life. A full, good life looks different to all of us. Whatever that looks like to you, I hope you're doing it. Don't wait. 

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34 comments:

  1. This post & Kimmi's post (sadly) go hand in hand. The loss of someone that I do not know in anyway, but they are in my age group (which means they had a whole lot left of living in them), and they were seemingly wonderful people while on this Earth. One battled cancer, one went instantly, and both are a reminder to never take life for granted, not one single second of it...and I'm guilty far too often of this.
    Sorry for your loss. I can relate to these types of friendships. I have many who I still feel a close connection with, and a few of those I haven't even seen in 20+ years.

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  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. When someone close in age passes, I do think there is a different emotion that hits you. xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  3. I'm so sorry to hear of your friend's passing. While he may not have been in your inner circle, it seems that your inner core was rocked. It happens to all of us as we slapped in the face by our own mortality. I think the worst feeling in the world is regret over what could have been. My mom always says that tomorrow is promised to no one, and as cliched as it may be, Tim McGraw had it right...live life like you were dying. Unlike money, time is not a renewable resource.

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  4. This is beautiful, Snotty, and really hit me in the heart. That's usually a signal to me it's time for me to help others. Are you collecting for Relay for Life yet?

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  5. So sorry to hear of this and, you're right, it's very unsettling. It makes us reexamine what exactly we're doing with ourselves.
    When I get kind of sad about getting older, I just think about how many don't get that chance. That takes those thoughts away pretty quickly.

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  6. I'm so sorry. I remember losing a peer in high school to a car accident and the way the entire school seemed united in grief. Not everyone even knew the person - I didn't - but at that age you feel like death isn't real, not to you, and I think just realizing our own mortality was a huge shock for a lot of people. Knowing you'll die one day is a logical conclusion, but not one that most people take the time to process emotionally and it's scary. I had an analytical moment a little while ago and concluded that I'm happy with where my life is at if I died now, BUT while I'm happy with my overall accomplishments and my progress, I know I don't make enough time to simply be and appreciate what I have each day. And that's something I'd like to work on.

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  7. For me when someone my age dies it sets in motion the "crap where did all the time go? If it happened to them it could happen to me." Then I think if it was a hard death, painful..the suffering...why so much suffering. I know that we don't get all the answers while we are here however I know that each birth, death & the middle brings us something to learn. I am glad for your memories of Mike that bring a smile to your face. I think those are what we grasp on to that makes life not easier but bearable at times.

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  8. Not an incoherent mess at all. This is a wonderful tribute to your friend, and to enjoying life while you still can.

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  9. I had a friend of similar closeness pass away in the fall and I felt so many of these things, too (especially that it hit me hard when I felt like it shouldn't have since we weren't close). So eloquently stated. Even though death does seem real and we know it will happen to us, it does seem so much like something that will happen later. The act of doing and truly living gets lost in so much day to day BS. I'm grateful for your call to action and sorry for your loss.

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  10. Brava! My beliefs make my thoughts about going to the other side easier because it is love personified and beautiful BUT when a younger person goes and the ancient people stay, I do not like it. I read the ages immediately in the obits and utter UGH when 85 plus people are listed. I know there is a reason for everything. My first visit to Gamma in the nursing home today will intensify my feelings. No quality of life for many who live on in old and tired bodies. Caring for them is one of the hardest things ever. God bless those caretakers. Younger people going before them is one of the most painful things ever. A beautiful tribute to a wonderful friend. Love, Your Momma.

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  11. Something like that really puts your own life in perspective. Tomorrow is not promised. Make today the best it can be.
    This whole post sits on me today as its the 9th anniversary of my best friend's passing from cancer. I still miss her EVERY DAY ... desperately. You never do stop missing them.

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  12. I think most about this when I realize how small the extended family K is growing up with is compared to the extended family I had growing up. I try hard to do the things I want to do so I can have no regrets later, life is really so short I want to live it!

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  13. I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend! I don't think that matters how well we know somebody, death effects us all, especially if it's somebody young. It sucks but sometimes death is the best way to help put our lives in perspective so we realize that we don't always have a ton of time.

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  14. I'm so sorry that you lost your friend. It's definitely never easy to lose someone you love and care for, and you're right, you miss them every day. I think any time something like this strikes us on such a level, it's always a good reminder not to leave things unsaid, or undone.

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  15. I think we hear the phrase "don't wait" or "what are you waiting for?" so often but it takes loss to make us really HEAR those words. Your post is really sinking in with me today. Honestly, I have such big plans- I don't want to be at this job forever (or even the next 5 years)... and there's no guarantee I'll GET those next five years. This is really powerful. Thank you for the reminder.

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  16. This is really well written. Losing someone, a peer, hits you in a more acute way than anything else. It somehow feels more real. I think you did him so much justice just by posting your thoughts on here.
    Couldn't agree more with the sentiment to not wait. Live your life. such a strong reminder.

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  17. I am sorry to hear about your loss. I lost a friend in high school and realized early on that we never know how long we have to do the things we want to do. To show love to the people whom we love. I always reflect like this after death and it is a good reminder to bring us all back to center. A great tribute to your friend.

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  18. THIS: "not to make people guess how I feel about them, not to let too long go by before I reach out to someone I've been thinking of, not to waste energy on things and people that don't matter" Yes. Thank you for the reminder!

    Thinking about you guys. So sorry for your loss.

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  19. So sorry for your loss. I too am becoming more and more aware of my mortality. I never used to understand my Grandma when she said that she was always surprised when she looked in the mirror, because she kept expecting to see her outside match the youthfulness inside. I'm starting to get that now. This is a great tribute to your friend and a great reminder to all of us that life is fleeting.

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  20. I'm sorry to hear about your loss. Death is always difficult but somehow it also seems a little bit harder when it is a peer. It does make you reevaluate. "The best way I know of to honor those who don't get the privilege to age along with me is to live a full life. A full, good life looks different to all of us. Whatever that looks like to you, I hope you're doing it. Don't wait." I haven't been "living" and it's something I'm trying to fix. Thank you for the spot-on reminder.

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  21. So sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, sending lots of *hugs* your way during this hard time. I don't know why some people are taken so soon, but I love the idea of living the most that you can now instead of just existing. One of my favorite mottos <3

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  22. Beautifully said, Steph. He'll always be with you. Sending love to you and MFD.

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  23. Ugh... I have been dealing with this for the last 5 years or so I guess. Once you get into your 40's it just starts happening and it is truly painful and gut wrenching. It has caused me to do a lot of soul searching and reorganizing of my own life... the it being the realization that we don't have endless amounts of time. I am sorry for your and MFD's loss Steph, very sorry. I say drink the wine, eat the cupcake, get the tattoo! Cheers to Mike!

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  24. I'm so sorry for your loss and totally understand re-evaluating things in your own life when something like this happens. Sometimes we need that painful reminder that life is short and we need to live every moment like it could be our last.

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  25. Steph... I'm not sure that could have been said any better. Thank you. -Carmine

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  26. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. This is a beautiful post, very well-written and a perfect reminder to us all.

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  27. I know exactly what you mean by heavy heart. I am very sorry for your loss.

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  28. A lovely tribute. I'm sorry I'm just now reading this. I think no matter what your age, when you lose a peer, especially someone you knew as a child, it hits hard. Thinking of all Mike's family and friends during this difficult time.

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  29. First off, I am so sorry for your loss. From your friendship in all of those schooling years, sounds like he was near your age and yes, that is sadly so young. I hope his ending was peaceful. This made my eyes well-up. It is so hard to think about these things. While I'm overall happy with the choices I make and the direction I'm going, that's more big picture, how do you feel proud of the last week or month, you know? I dredge through it. Anyway, great piece and sending hugs your way. Sounds like you were super lucky to know a guy like Mike.

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  30. i am so sorry for your loss of what sounds like an amazing person. i hate that we have to lose people to be reminded of how short life is.. i mean, like you, i do *try* and live my life that way anyway, but sometimes it's easy for me to forget. i am extremely lucky, i know, not to have lost a lot of people, and i am quite terrified of it actually, but i try not to think about it. i knew a girl when i was a teenager, brightest happiest most annoying bubbliest teenager i ever met. got hit by a car while crossing the road. i always try and remember her because i really think it was so unfair - i mean, it's never fair - but if anyone would have made an amazing life, or lived life to it's fullest, it was her and that is just not fair. i was nothing like her, i did not live life like that. so i try to now, but it's easy to push things to tomorrow or next week or next year. although i will say, 5-10 years ago, i would not have been happy or proud of the life i lived, or felt like i got a good go of it, but i do now. i'm not unhappy or not proud of the years before, i was just too .. i don't know, too 'me' to realise and appreciate the good things.
    sorry for my rambling. I am very sorry again for the loss of your friend. Thank you for sharing this post with us.

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  31. Goodness gracious this hit me really, really hard. I am so sorry for your loss. He really does sound like a wonderful person. I'm with you...yes, I do expect my parents to go before me just like my grandparents did and it will be awful and I will miss them and it will hurt so much, but when you lose a peer or someone close to your age it just hits you...wow that can be you. When I lost Steve in December it really hit, not only because we were so close, but also because it WAS so unexpected and it could at any moment be me...and am I living my life and doing thing things I should be? I always try to live my life to tell those that I love how I feel because I never ever want to leave anyone guessing.
    Thank you for sharing your heart in this post. I really enjoyed it.

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  32. I am so sorry for your loss, Steph. I have a similar outlook, death sucks but it happens and you expect older people to die before you. It doesn't hurt any less that they are older but for the most part you hope they lived a long life. But when it is a peer or someone younger you think about all the things they WON'T get to do and how sad it is they didn't get to the 'end' of life. My husband and I have thought about 'have we done what we wanted' and that was part of the reason we took our trip. Who knows what we are promised? So you try to be kind and loving and let the little stuff that doesn't matter drift away.

    Hugs to you!

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  33. I'm sorry for your loss. It doesn't seem right when we lose someone so young. I feel like we're at an age where death is knocking at our door, not necessarily for us, but those around us, but who am I kidding, we're one step closer to death each day, so yeah, us too. I always say, I want to live life, I want to do what makes me happy, no regrets, but it seems like life starts to move and I'm lulled back into conformity. Death always has a way of reminding me I'm not doing what I'm supposed to, I need to live more, love more, and connect with those who mean the world to me while I'm still here.
    Currently, I've been feeling all the emotions of life, as you know, and it sincerely has me considering changes in my life.
    Sending you love!
    xo

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  34. So very sorry for your loss, and for everyone who lost someone with this passing.
    Also, I want you to know that this past week has been too hectic for me to read, but I did scroll through my feed and just the title of this post got my metaphorical feet moving on something I've been saying "someday" about for much too long. Thank you for the reminder. My heart goes out to you and your husband as you grieve this loss.

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