Death intrudes, but also reawakens
A sudden, unexpected and very tragic loss this past week has given me pause. And I’m not one who pauses very often.
I didn’t know this man very well, but I liked him. We were associated by our children – he was my son’s father-in-law. He enjoyed a very successful career in the citrus industry and was in Nicaragua scouting out orange crops when the helicopter he was riding in crashed into a river. One minute he was alive, and the next he was gone from this earth, never to speak again.
I watched helplessly as my daughter-in-law struggled with this sudden loss. I knew she was feeling sad and worried for her mother and regretted not reaching out to her step-father more. Guilt and regret are both a terrible waste of energy, but that’s what she was dealing with, and no words I could speak would take that away.
And that’s what has given me pause for thought.
We live in a very busy world, and there are many, many things that are vying for our attention - jobs, school, social activities, hobbies, favorite TV shows, housework, vehicle and house upkeep, volunteer work, yard work, pets, video games, social media, friends, family . . . and the list goes on.
It’s not by accident that I listed friends and family last – because, all too often, these are the areas that get the least of our attention. Why is that?
We miss so many opportunities when it comes to connecting with the actual people in our lives. Days, weeks and even months go by without reaching out to a parent, grandparent, sibling or friend, because we assume they will always be there.
We don’t call because we just don’t have time. What if they stay on the phone too long?
We don’t visit because it’s just too far. Have you seen the price of gas?
We’ve let social media and texting become our main mode of communication, because it fits better into our hassled lives and we can control the length of the conversation.
Our voices have been silenced by words on a screen. Emotions have been replaced by iconic emojis.
Personal calls, notes and letters have been replaced by instant everything.
And in all this, what example are we setting for those following behind us? Some of my best memories are of my mom talking to her sister on the phone for hours while she ironed. And the times we loved best were when carloads of cousins pulled in the drive.
Those visits are some of my most vivid childhood memories.
What memories are we leaving for our children?
I’ve often heard people ask, “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”
Great question. Perhaps the answer is so that we are forced to have moments like this – moments of clarity that remind us that the people we love are on loan only for a little while.
That said, I’ve got a few calls to make.