Death of a friend or loved one always hurts but feeling sadness from such losses increases as we get older.
Almost two weeks ago, an old friend from my newspaper days in Illinois in the 1970s died from pancreatic cancer at age 72.
This morning, news arrived via email that a former lover succumbed to throat cancer Tuesday night at age 63.
“I thought you should know,” her sister said in the email. “I remember you two were close and she often talked about the times you and she were together.”
We were close: Very close. We met in St. Louis in the 70s, during my single days before Amy, my wife of many loving years, met. We enjoyed our times together for several months but neither of us were ready for a permanent relationship at the time and parted as good friends.
As I approach 70 later this year, I realize that the years have brought much sorrow over the loss of friends and loved ones, some of them close relatives and other close in other ways.
Life can bring much happiness but sorrow is also part of our experiences and relationships. I cannot visit the Vietnam Memorial Wall on the National Mall in Washington without seeing the names of good friends who died there.
People I knew died when the Twin Towers collapsed in New York on September 11, 2001. Another died when a truck bomb created by a deranged vet and survivalist destroyed the federal building in Oklahoma City. A good friend and journalist died during the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Close friends have died in automobile accidents, others in wars and still more from violent acts. Two killed themselves.
I often ask “why?” There are no easy answers. Sometimes I ask “why not me instead of them?” That’s not the way life works. At least twice in my life, I should have died from injuries: One from a helicopter crash in a place far from here and against four-and-a-half years ago on U.S. 221 in Roanoke County in a motorcycle accident.
Some say those of us who survive near-death experiences are spared because they have uncompleted business in their lives. I’m not sure that is so. I live today because of good medical treatment and a lot of luck.
A doctor’s appointment this morning is a routine check up, but one that comes more often now because of age and past abuse of my body. It most likely bring more rehab to help ease both mental and physical limitations.
With luck, I have a few more years left on this earth but for too many I have known, loved and cherished over the years, remaining alive was not in their future.