My dad died seventeen years ago. I was twenty-seven. Since his death, I have gotten married, earned a law degree, birthed four children, and written over a million words. When I hear people express sadness over the death of someone in their eighties or nineties, I know their pain is real, yet I also know they had the benefit of decades “more time” with their loved one as I did with my father.
When my sister and her husband stood witness to the death of their infant who spent only three and a half months in their physical presence, the relativism of death was reframed for me. The loss of my father to me was redefined through the loss of Sonne.
And now this morning, I have learned of the death of man who lived in my small town with his wife and four children. Our families’ lives have intersected from time to time; their children have shared teachers, soccer fields and swings with mine. There are not many families of six where I live. That fact alone put our families into the same category.
While I understand what it feels like to lose a loved one to illness, I cannot begin to know how much grief and confusion this family is feeling now in the wake of the loss of a kind and loving father and husband.
As relative as death is for me, I will never grow accustomed to the shock of it all. Why something which awaits us all should continue to set me back on my heels when I learn of it makes me realize how quickly life can go from predictable to unknown.
My thoughts are with the mother and her four babies who,while they will be able to know their father through their memories and stories of his life, have been robbed of the opportunity of his presence. Although they were able to have him with them for the years they did, his death came too soon.