Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tomorrow is Not a Promise

March 19, 2013

I went to a funeral today.  It was for an old friend from high school who died suddenly last week from a massive heart attack.  No warning signs.  Nothing amiss.  Until...he was suddenly gone.  He was only 46.

I'm 45.  I turn 46 this year, just like Zeke did.  For him, though he couldn't possibly know it, it would be his final age.  Some 27 years ago, my dad died at the age of 46, also from a massive heart attack.  I remember distinctly thinking at the time, through the short-sighted and arrogant lens of youth, "Well, he was old.  He had lived a full life."  What did I know then?  Now on the doorstep of the age my dad was when he died, I know that my friends and I are merely beginning to dip our toes in waters of the second halves of our lives--at least that's what we believe.  We are alive, vibrant, seeing the future stretch out ahead of us:  continued careers, and eventually retirement, watching our children grow and someday kissing and holding grandbabies, traveling perhaps, and envisioning many, many good times with friends.  We are young, in our hearts; we are not done, nowhere near the finish line.

But we don't really know that, do we?  I should know better.  Not only did my father die at the age of 46, but I lost my mother when she was 53.  My brother when he was only 42.  I know it can happen far sooner than anyone anticipates.  But what we know and what we feel can be two very different things.  I don't feel like life could end unexpectedly, for me or any of my friends.  Or, God forbid, my children.  So I get complacent, as many of us do--forget to say I love you enough, forget to be fully present, forget that another time, another chance is never guaranteed.

Zeke was blessed to have a strong band of brothers--friends since early high school--who have been each others' support system for many years.  I know his friends all knew Zeke loved them; Zeke certainly knew his friends loved him.  I have always admired this group of friends and their connection that spanned 30 years.  They lived, laughed, and were an extended family in such a beautiful way.

I have also been blessed with an amazing family, some biological, and some chosen.  Especially in the last ten years of my life, I have been able to strengthen long-time friendships and make some new brothers and sisters of the heart as well.  Do these people, vital to my mental and emotional well-being, know how important they are to me?  I genuinely believe they do. I hope they do.  I don't want them ever to wonder or doubt, because second chances are never guaranteed, and tomorrow doesn't always arrive.

So in case you were wondering, you, who are all such an important part of my life--in case you didn't know-- I love you.  You, who have been my shoulder to cry on, I love you.  You, who make me smile more than I ever thought I could, I love you.  You, who are my partner in crime, I love you.  You, who make me feel like my best self whenever I'm with you, I love you.  You, who light up any room you walk into, I love you.  You, who exude gentleness and warmth, you who personify joy and generosity, you who have the biggest heart of anyone I know, you who teach me to see the world through new eyes, and you who have been my champion in my low times, I love you. You with the perpetual twinkle in the eyes, and you who challenge me to grow, and you who love to talk as much as I do, I love you.  You who know my insecurities, and you who are a role model to me, and you to whom I can occasionally be a role model, I love you. You, and you, and you...if you think you see yourself here, you do.  And I love you for being part of who makes me who I am.  I didn't want to wait another day to tell you, because you never know what tomorrow holds.

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