Last night I was bustling around getting ready for a Christmas card class when the phone rang. It was a friend who sounded distraught, so immediately I knew she was going to tell me bad news, but you are never prepared for the shock of death. My boss from the newspaper I worked at last year, had been found dead in her house. I wanted to know answers ("Why? How? I just talked to her a few days ago!") and of course she didn't know anything else and was just as shocked as I was.
This kind of news rattles you somewhere inside your core. I gave myself thirty seconds to marshall my scattered thoughts and emotions, then went downstairs to join my guests and stamp for the evening. We have to put our game face on, even when we are surprised and upset. When the class was over, I was able to sit down and think about the boss and friend that was so suddenly absent in this world, and grieve for her and for her devastated husband.
Life is fragile. We all know this, but don't always behave as though we know it. Death is a check and balance system for everyone. It brings up how we feel about living. It made me pause and adjust my priorities once again. If I was to die suddenly, how would people feel when they received the kind of phone call I got last night? Would it leave a hole in their lives? Am I giving of myself on a daily basis to the people in my world?
I try to avoid thinking about death whenever possible, because I only understand what it's like to be alive. To breathe in and out, all day and all night, and to be anchored to something concrete, no matter how painful or difficult it is at times. It's what I know and can relate to. I'm terribly afraid of the unknown. I wish I had more faith in what comes next after this life, but I must admit that I would prefer to stay living forever.
I'm slowly coming to terms with aspects of mystery in my faith, and I pray that acceptance and peace in death is at the end of that road and that I will find it eventually if I keep on walking in the direction I am heading. I wish I felt calmer about dying someday. I understand death logically in my mind, but I shy away from its cold reality in my soul and my spirit.
I must accept my limitations in this area. At thirty-seven, I'm not ready to die, but I acknowledge that I'm not in charge of when or how that event will happen. I still have so much more to say and to do in this lifetime. I'm not guaranteed anything, but I have today: to love my kids and my family and my friends. To make my time count, and be grateful for all that I have been given, and hope that more time on earth will help me reconcile my fear for the unknown.