My difficult day: life & death up close


I’m not sure what put me over the edge. My first thought was two sad stories I saw on my local news on a terminally ill teenager and a woman fighting breast cancer.

It could have been the realization that my children are getting older. They’re no longer little kids, running around the house. In a few years, we’re going to have a tougher and tougher time getting everyone together at the same time for the holidays.

In addition, I’ve been putting in a ton of hours in my job. I have a major project coming due in a few months and my work-life balance has certainly been tilted too much in one direction. It could have been the Christmas lights or even the picture a friend of mine sent me of him and his newborn baby.

I had a million thoughts racing through my head, but nothing prepared me for the news I got later in the day.

IMG_1076 (6)A friend who I had worked with several years ago had passed away in his sleep. My breath was stolen from me. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. The funeral home obituary had to have the wrong name listed — he was only a few years older than me — but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

The last time we talked

I had traded voicemails with my friend just two weeks earlier. I’m not sure what I thought would happen but I spent the rest of the afternoon re-reading the obituary. I knew it wouldn’t change anything, but I found myself staring at the screen, trying to make sense of his death.

When we worked together, he had been my mentor. He was a little gruff at first, but he had an eye for detail and had a wonderful way with the written word. We had worked closely for three years, but that was more than ten years ago. Despite the time, we still managed to get together every few months to vent on the workload and trade news. I’d talk about my daughter going off to college. He’d talk about Lego competitions. (I never knew they even existed.)

It was just two friends, two former coworkers, catching up. And here I was reading his obituary.

Spiraling downward

The combination of news put me in a foul-mood. I drove home later that evening in an angry blur. I couldn’t get my friend out of my mind. I felt like everything was out-of-control, me included.

I trudged into my house angry and frustrated. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I didn’t want to fight with anyone. I just wanted to grab something to eat and go straight to bed.

I’m not sure how he knew, but when I came home, my oldest son must have known instinctively that something was wrong, that something was out-of-place. He came up to me and gave me a quick hug. It was over in the blink of an eye, but it did wonders for me. It was just what the doctor ordered.

I couldn’t bring back my friend. I couldn’t change any of the news in fact. I could only control what I could control. But I had my family. I had their love and God was looking after me. I would live “to fight” another day.

 

 

 

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