When time runs out…

Walk into the light

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.

Why?

1 thought on “When time runs out…”

  1. We, the living, don’t get to know why those that die, pass away when they do. 13 years ago, my father should have died in a serious car crash caused by a distracted teenager driving way too fast on a crowded highway. He wrecked four vehicles, and airbags saved everybody’s lives. Nobody thought, after seeing my dad’s truck, that the driver would have lived. Not only did he live, but 3 hours later, he walked out of the ER on his own two feet with a cut lip and face, and broken glasses. Why? There was a reason he was spared that day. Two years later, he was instrumental in setting up an educational, church-based basketball league that has gone on for the past 11 years and touched the lives of thousands of kids.
    But, in the summer of 2011, he died in his sleep of an massive heart attack, a condition that was not previously diagnosed. He was 71. In today’s world, that seems young. When most of his relatives lived way into their 80s, and some in their 90s, even his family history indicated longer lives than his turned out to be. He also never retired.
    Why? As his only child, I have struggled with that for the past five-plus years. I made my peace with this concept some time ago, but I still do not understand it.
    Why people who live lives of suffering or malice live decades longer than they should, and mostly decent people die at a younger age makes no sense.
    But it’s what we have to deal with, as those that have been left behind while they go on ahead.

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