loss and life

Saturday – Part One

Saturday morning Derek and I found out that a friend had passed away. While it wasn’t unexpected, it certainly wasn’t expected. Is it ever expected?  To expect it, would be to accept it. And despite my brain’s attempts to warn me, I wasn’t able to force my heart to follow. And so it came as a surprise; as all deaths do.   

He had been sick for a very long time. Three months ago he made a decision to stop taking his medication.  At first, I didn’t understand his decision.  I wanted him to hold on. Keep trying. Cling to his life. But then he sent out an email explaining it. And now I understand. His quality of life had reached an unacceptable low. He was tired of fighting for a body that would never heal. Tired of hospital stays and blood counts. Tired of waiting for test results.  Finally, he is able to rest.

It is grossly unfair and my heart goes out to his family.  I’m deeply sorry for their loss.

 Saturday – Part Two

Saturday afternoon, we made the trek to Steilacoom to catch the Anderson Island ferry for my great uncle’s 80th surprise birthday party.  I don’t know this uncle very well, but my mom’s family made it a priority to be there. So I went. 

As we pulled up to the ferry terminal, it quickly became apparent that something was not right. The ferry was docked, but it was being blocked by a stopped train.  We got out of the car to investigate and we learned that a man had committed suicide 30 minutes earlier. He had sat down on the tracks and the train engineer could not stop the train in time.  Police and Amtrak officials bolted around the crime scene. Passengers inside the train were on their feet, restless. The body was still lying on the ground near the tracks – it was covered by a black tarp.  It was surreal; I felt like I was watching a scene out of a movie. 

 Saturday – Part Three

We finally arrived at the surprise party. It was an amazing turnout; at least 125 people came to celebrate with our 80 year-old Uncle Dick. He was remarkable. He greeted everyone by name. He laughed. He told stories. He was thrilled to be surrounded by so many of his friends and family.

When it was time sing the birthday song, Uncle Dick made a quick impromptu speech.  He thanked everyone for coming and recognized his children for organizing the surprise party. Then he said something that put my day in perspective and helped to renew my focus.  He said, “This community center usually only sees a crowd this big when there is a funeral. I’m deeply thankful and extremely blessed that all of you came out here while I’m still around to enjoy you. To celebrate my life rather than to mourn my death.  While it is important we recognize the dead, it’s just as important to celebrate the living. I love you all!”

At that point, his kids drove-up in his birthday present – a brand new tractor. He was elated.


6 Responses to “loss and life”

  1. 1 big mama
    January 22, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Thanks for the perspective.
    We have so much to celebrate – let’s remember to do it.

  2. 2 Auntie
    January 22, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    I love you. What a wonderful way to express yourself. I know that it is to soon to realize the loss, that you and Dreke shared is a part of life. Though we don’t understand it,it does help us in life. It helps us to understand the real important things in life. “Family”, “Friends”, and “Yourself.” To enjoy every part of life, the good and the bad, “it’s life.”
    I know that going to a Uncles party that you did’nt really know, was the last thing you wanted to do, But just think of the experiance.
    Keep up the good work! I’m proud of you.

  3. 3 Aunt Janae
    January 22, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Hey Kindy Lou,

    It was great to see you. I love your apartment. I hope you didn’t mind me calling you Carrie Bradshaw. I didn’t mind you calling me Samantha. I am so far removed from her that I kind of liked it. Thanks for the recap of the party. The one thing I remembered Uncle Dick saying is that this celebration could be his funeral as he was there to enjoy it. I have always wondered who would be at mine and what it would be like. I am in a place now where I hope that that is a long way off. Keep up the writing as I believe you have a real gift. Thank you for your Love Support and encouragement. You are a wonderful neice.

    Aunty Nae Nae

  4. 4 Auntie
    January 22, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    You should call your family more !!!! Hint Hint ..
    We love you
    Oh ,and call your Uncles and Grammie Dear and Papa.
    Do you need numbers ????

  5. 5 Auntie
    January 22, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    I ment Aunties !1
    Im sure you talk to you family enough

  6. 6 kb
    January 22, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    From Kindra: Are you guys drunk? 🙂 Just kidding! It was great to see you too; love you both and thanks for being so supportive!

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