This past week was notable for the number of people I knew who died.
I know, I know. Across the world, many people die every day. But I’ve noticed that the older I get, the more often it happens to those I know. Sometimes, we’re not even talking about people I’ve met in real life. But celebrities and such you’ve seen in movies or on television. They become like pseudo family or friends for us. They are so familiar, and we’re so used to sharing this world with them, it’s a shock when we discovered they’ve left–and we’re still here.
One of those people was In my local circle of “writing people” I’m used to seeing each month. We weren’t close, but she was part of my world. Her passing jolted me, as most of them do now. There’s a new song I really like called “Don’t Let The Old Man In” by Toby Keith. There are several favorite lines in it.
One of them is: “I knew all of my life, that some day it would end.”
But do we really?
Intellectually we do. But viscerally, it takes more than that. Maybe it’s when you realize that all your relatives who were older than you are now gone. You are standing on the top of the hill. That’s a pretty scary thought.
Then on the same day my writing acquaintance passed, I heard that Doris Day (way up there in her 90s) had also died. The next day, comedian and talented actor Tim Conway left us. It began to feel like an epidemic.
Part of this, I know, is because I lost my mother a little more than a year ago. At age 98, she had slipped into dementia and didn’t remember much anymore. But she knew me when I went to see her. She still knew (most of the time) that I was her daughter. Occasionally she thought I was her sister, but mostly she knew our relationship. With her now gone, there’s no anchor left connecting me to my childhood.
I have some younger cousins. I was the oldest on both sides of the family for the first seven years of my life. But I live more than 600 miles away from all of them. I appreciate our email connection, and occasional phone calls. My much younger brother lives 2,000 miles away. I wish we all lived in the same town (or at least in the same state!)
I treasure my immediate family, which I get to see all the time because they live in the same town with me–my amazing husband, my wonderful daughter and her husband, and my fantastic friends. I learned long ago to count friends in with your family. They are a much needed support system when you’re feeling down and need to talk. I hope I can do the same for them.
I suppose the point of this post is don’t waste time. Learn to use it to its full advantage. Keep in touch with family and friends. You never know when you will lose one of them.
Or when they might lose you.