Yesterday, I went to the funeral of a dear friend’s father. He was only 66 – not much older than my dad. He was a good man, by all accounts: a veteran, a family man, patient and kind but with a wicked sense of humor. Not only was he too young, he never got to meet his fourth grandchild: my friend is currently 35 weeks pregnant with her first child (her older sister has a teenager and twin preteens). He isn’t in pain anymore, and for that they are all grateful, but I’m very sad for my friend – and her whole family, of course, but especially for my friend. I know she hoped so much that he’d hold on long enough to meet her first baby, but he just couldn’t.
Of course this kind of event makes you think about your own experiences with death. I have rather more than most people my age simply because I grew up in a family that was very close to extended family members. One of my first memories is of going to my great-great aunt’s funeral. I knew three of my great-grandparents and went to two of their funerals. I was close to almost all of my great-aunts and great-uncles and have been to many of their funerals, and I’ve lost five of my six grandparents (and – duh – attended all five funerals). One of those grandparents was from a suicide when I was 16, a grandparent I was very close to, who lived next door to me and helped raise me (but that’s a story for another day). I’ve sadly even been to a funeral for a friend just eight months after her wedding, which might be the most tragic experience I’ve ever personally had, and a close friend of ours lost her sister (who we also knew and loved) to cancer, leaving behind a new husband and a nearly preteen daughter at the time of her death. So I’ve seen enough death for a lifetime already, in my opinion. Unfortunately, I love lots more people who I can still lose. It seems the next logical group is aunts and uncles and parents, and I am really, really not ready for that. So a friend my age losing her dad terrifies me.
Does it make me insensitive that this is what I’m thinking of on the day of my friend’s dad’s funeral? I don’t think so. I ache for her, on her behalf, for her pain. I think it’s perfectly human, though, to relate that kind of pain to yourself…and I don’t want to. I don’t want to imagine losing a parent. I don’t really have a point to all this except that sometimes, life sucks. And you can be damn sure I’m going to hound my loved ones even more to take care of themselves as much as they can. Sometimes stuff happens anyway, I realize, but they’d better do everything they can to stay with me. And I’ll do the same. Scout’s honor.