I was clearing off my coffee table last night when I came upon a memorial service program for my friend’s husband’s service that I attended this past weekend. He was 35 and died suddenly and unexpectedly. His handsome, smiling face with his arm wrapped around his family beamed back at me from the program. He had already earned his PhD and was always learning and teaching.
I walked over to another stack of papers on the bar in our living room and right on top was a program from a memorial concert that I attended for our friend Danny two weeks ago. He died suddenly in April. He was 47. He could sing Billy Joel better than Billy himself.
Just two months before that, one of my sorority sisters suffered the devastating, sudden loss of her husband. He was 48. Every time I saw them together, they looked like newlyweds.
Last fall, another close friend was killed in a plane crash, leaving behind his amazing wife and three great kids. He was 43. He was one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met and made the best bbq sliders on the planet.
All I could think as I picked up the programs and reflected on the gaping holes these four men have left in the lives of those who loved them is, “That ain’t right, y’all.”
Losing someone you love is never easy. When they’re sick, you may have time to prepare but the effects are still devastating. When they’re older, you may be able to console yourself with the fact that they lived a great, long life. No matter the manner of death, you may always wish you had just a few more minutes. But when their lives are suddenly cut short, how do you make sense of that?
I don’t think you can make sense of it. Even though it is hard to accept, death is a part of life. Eventually it will come for us all. The best we can hope for is to have as much time as possible with those we love. But even more than that, the quantity of our years is less important than the quality of them. If we are very lucky, we get a happy long life.
A pastor at one of the services I attended had the best advice: If God is good (and He is) then live, love, learn, and let it go. Whatever is weighing you down, or holding you back, you’ve got to let it go. Life has so much more to offer. Don’t waste it.