Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Comes in threes

Dad called Monday morning to let me know that an old boss of mine had passed away. A couple of months ago I heard that he had the cancer pretty bad, so it wasn't unexpected. I hadn't seen him in two or three years, but figured I'd go to the visitation. I worked there for eight and a half years, my longest tenure at any job.

As I was looking online for the funeral arrangements, I came across the obituary of someone else I knew--a lady I used to go to church with. Even though I hadn't seen her in probably fifteen or twenty years, she still mailed me a birthday card each year. A couple of years ago, she wrote that it would probably be the last time she'd be able to send a card as her health was failing. She sent at least one more after that.

After that, I was left wondering who the third would be? I would find out Tuesday, when Mom told me a guy I went to school with and played youth league basketball with had died a couple of weeks ago. Turns out the third had already occurred, I guess. He was 36. Brain cancer.

The news left me feeling solemn. Reflective and quiet. I felt guilty because I wasn't particularly close to any of the three. Even though there was a time where I saw each of them weekly, if not more often, years and years had passed since then.

I know each of the deceased were a mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother, and friend to so many. And obviously, my heart and prayers go out to them. But for me, it was a strange feeling. It felt like death from a distance. And I feel guilty or selfish or something for even thinking that.

Death hadn't come into my home. But it passed nearby. I heard it swirling outside. I felt it wafting thru the windows, reminding me of it's ever-presence. And leaving me with a chill.

Driving home from the visitation last night, I rolled the windows down and opened the sunroof. I wanted to see the stars, feel the night air, and be reminded that I was alive. Most of all, I just wanted to keep driving.

"And we'll climb up on the mountain, ya'll, we'll let our voices ring. Those who've never tried it, they'll be the first to sing..."


  1. Oh Bone you talk about such universal truths

    We all want to keep driving after the third or before that affects us but not as if they were close friends or family

    Your thread count post was one of your funniest. This was one of your most moving

    Your range amazes me. I picked a great tee

  2. I'm very tired so if my second paragraph didn't make sense--I meant we feel a range of emotions and much guilt for knowing how much worse we would have felt...

  3. It is sad that for so many of us it takes death to remind us to appreciate life.

  4. I'm sorry. I know they weren't especially close to you, but I also know that it still affects you (I've been there.)

    I don't think there's anyway for it to get easier. I would like to expose my kid to a funeral that isn't someone she is related to so she knows what to expect, but I'm not so sure that would help prepare her.

  5. Death hadn't come into my home. But it passed nearby. I heard it swirling outside. I felt it wafting thru the windows, reminding me of it's ever-presence. And leaving me with a chill.

    This may be the most poignant, beautiful and honest passage you've ever written.

    Sometimes I think it's the "distance" deaths that strike us the hardest. Those are the ones that make us think the most horrible thoughts like "Thank God it wasn't someone close to me" or "I didn't have time to know him better."

  6. Sorry to hear about the losses in your life- weird how it doesn't get any easier to handle. Death still hurts as badly as it did when I was 15.

  7. I was at my brother's house a couple of weeks back (he was taking me to the airport in the morning), and I grabbed a copy of our hometown's newspaper. (My parents bought him a subscription.) I flipped open the front page, headed straight for the joke of the week, when a black and white photo on the obituaries page stopped me in my tracks.

    I haven't see that woman in years, but she was always around when I was a little girl. Actively involved in a couple of the same community organizations as both my Mom and Grandma, I'd spent a lot of time around her and her husband.

    They supported me when it came time to fundraise for my trip to Mexico. When I sold fruit for FFA. When I was raising money for this or that. They supported our hometown and our school LONG after all of their family had moved away.

    And I sat there, trying to take it all in, and figure out what it meant to me. She wasn't a young woman by any means: in her early 90s. Yet... it still felt like it was way too young. I think it's always too soon.

    Another beautiful post, Bone. You never fail to bring strong emotions to the surface with your writing.

  8. I think death is one of the hardest situations to come to terms with because we can't use humor, like we can with most, if not all, other subjects. Whether it's someone close to us or not, it brings up thoughts and feelings that are hard.

  9. My father passed away a few years ago. Around the time of the third anniversary of his death my Mum called to tell me she'd been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Luckily the operation and post-op treatment have proven successful so she's going to pull through.

    Then my older sister's doctor told her that unless she loses weight, she'll not see her 50th birthday. Even faced with this bleak truth I think my sister's self-destructive streak is too strong; I don't think she's going to lose the weight she needs to.

    I agree with most everyone, too, I think. The "Death hadn't come into my home..." paragraph is brilliant, in a poignant sort of way.

  10. Bone, you are so very apt at putting into words some very deep feelings about the depths of emotion.. can't get much deeper than death. It does pass so close to us all tho very often, and it makes its presence known, even if the person who died isn't that close. This hits close to home.

  11. I am sorry about your losses. Even though they may not have been close, to lose those we know always reminds us that we too are mortal. Blessings,

  12. I'm sorry. I know you said they weren't close but it's still a loss. It should make us all thankful for what we have and the people that are in our lives. Please don't take advantage of all the great people we have in our life!

  13. Life Love and Loss
    these are three ways
    everyone in our lives affect us, no matter how well we know them.
    Death of someone you know is always emotional.

  14. That's a lovely post. I feel as though death has come to visit me all too often. But it is a good reminder that we are still here and have lots to live for.

    Sorry about your losses.

  15. hey bone, this is such a touching post.
    you related so well the feelings we've all have had when we hear of the passing of an old acquaintance.
    people move on and situations change, we always feel so guilty, but really, should we? sorry for your sadness. driving to feel 'alive' resonated with me and how I get sometimes.

  16. They do happen in threes, don't they? Disasters, personal tragedies, etc. Why? It just seems to work that way. There's no explanation. I know you weren't close with these people, but it still puts you in a position to reflect. Sometimes I hate that.

  17. I found out that my friends coworker passed away Monday, and then today I found out that my cousins grandmother passed away last night. I knew both people although not very well. I have wondered all day who the 3rd is going to be. I am praying that it isn't one of my close friends or family!

  18. You've been quiet lately. You watching the VP debates tonight? Very interesting. I'll probably have lots of commentary in the morning :) Holla at you tomorrow. A bunch of us are going to Madison Sat for this thing downtown. You want to go? And by a bunch, I mean the family, since there are 4 of us now. LOL

  19. You put into words (and beautifully) what most of us haven't been able to express in similar situations. Thank you.

  20. Death is unnerving no matter how distant. It's a reminder, if nothing else, that it all ends at some point. Some find comfort with that knowledge. I, like you, don't.

    Keep opening your sun-roof... and we'll all do the same. Maybe at some point, we'll all look up at the same time and feel that very alive connection.